Physical exam for congenital heart defects

During a physical exam for a congenital heart defect, the health professional will:

  • Check your child's weight and length.
  • Check your child's heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Listen to your child's heart and lungs with a stethoscope to detect whether a heart murmur is present. A heart murmur can be normal in children but should be checked by a health professional.
  • Check your child's heart rate (pulses) on the neck, wrist, legs, and feet.
  • Check your child's nail beds, lips, and skin for a bluish tint (cyanosis) and/or clubbing. Your health professional may also check the amount of oxygen in your child's blood with an oximeter.
  • Look at the skin over the blood vessels in the neck to see whether the vessels bulge. This may happen if the heart is weak (heart failure).
  • Look at and feel your child's belly to check for an enlarged liver. The liver may be enlarged in children who have heart failure.

Last Updated: October 12, 2009

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