Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you or your child develops signs and symptoms common to ventricular septal defect, call your doctor. After an initial examination, it's likely that the doctor will refer you or your child to a cardiologist.

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any signs and symptoms you or your child has had and for how long.
  • Write down key medical information, including any other health problems and the names of any medications you or your child is taking.
  • Find a family member or friend who can come with you to the appointment, if possible. Although ventricular septal defect is typically very manageable, it may be hard to focus on what the doctor says next after receiving a diagnosis of a heart defect. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what the doctor says.
  • Write down the questions you want to be sure to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask the doctor at the initial appointment include:

  • What is likely causing these symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes for these symptoms?
  • What tests are needed?
  • Should a specialist be consulted?

Questions to ask if you are referred to a cardiologist include:

  • Do I or my child have a ventricular septal defect? What type?
  • How large is the defect?
  • What is the risk of complications from this condition?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • If you're recommending medications, what are the possible side effects?
  • If you're recommending surgery, what type of procedure is most likely to be effective?
  • How often should we schedule follow-up exams and tests?
  • What signs and symptoms should I watch for at home?
  • What is the long-term outlook for this condition?
  • Do you recommend any dietary or activity restrictions?
  • Do you recommend taking antibiotics before dental appointments or other medical procedures?
  • What is the risk that my future children will have this defect?
  • Should I meet with a genetic counselor?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

A doctor or cardiologist who sees you or your child for a possible ventricular septal defect may ask a number of questions, including:

If you are the person affected:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms gotten worse over time?
  • Do your symptoms include rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats?
  • Do your symptoms include shortness of breath?
  • Do your symptoms include dizziness?
  • Have you ever fainted?
  • Have you ever coughed up blood?
  • Does exercise or physical exertion make your symptoms worse?
  • Does lying down make your symptoms worse?
  • Are you aware of any history of heart problems in your family?
  • Are you being treated or have you recently been treated for any other health conditions?
  • Do you or did you smoke? How much?
  • Are you planning to become pregnant in the future?

If your baby or child is affected:

  • Does your child tire easily while eating or playing?
  • Is your child gaining weight?
  • Does your child breathe rapidly?
  • Does your child run out of breath when eating or crying?
  • Have you ever noticed a bluish tint to your child's skin, especially around the fingernails and lips?
  • Has your child been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • Is your child currently taking any medications?
  • Is there a family history of congenital heart defects?
  • Are you planning to have more children in the future?
Oct. 26, 2011