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Everything You Need to Know About Cyanotic Heart Disease

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Everything You Need to Know About Cyanotic Heart Disease

Cardiology | by Dr. Dhiman Kahali | Published on 05/07/2023

Experiencing skin discoloration or blue lips and nails? If yes, then it is an indication that you might have cyanotic heart disease. It is a term used for describing congenital heart defects causing blood oxygenation, and discoloration of the lips or nails which is known as cyanosis. These conditions exist at birth and affect the heart structure and function leading to the impairment of blood that is oxygen-rich in the body. It is essential to be aware of such conditions so that timely treatment can be considered before it’s too late. 

If you are looking for healthcare services, then you can reach out to one of the best cardiac hospitals, BM Birla Heart Research Centre in Kolkata. Once you get in touch with the healthcare professionals here, they will not only offer you the best diagnosis but also ensure providing you with the best treatment with patient care. 

In this blog post, we are going to discuss cyanotic congenital heart diseases, their causes, symptoms, and options for treatment, so stick to the end.

What is cyanotic heart disease?

Cyanotic congenital heart disease (CCHD) is among the conditions that are present at birth and it leads to causing low oxygen levels in the blood. One of the most common symptoms is blue skin which is referred to as cyanosis. An individual suffering from cyanotic heart disease experiences low levels of oxygen in his/her blood. There are different birth defects that can cause this heart disease type which include: 

  • Heart valve issues 
  • Interruption in the largest artery is the aorta 
  • Anomalies in the large blood vessels 

In various cases, if only one defect is detected, then it means that there is no cyanosis because if there is more than one defect, then it is considered cyanotic heart disease. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors usually involve the use of imaging tests which include chest X-rays and echocardiograms. For treatment, medication is recommended to relieve the CCHD symptoms. However, for infants, there might be a need for surgery to treat the disease and the success entirely depends on the defect severity.

What are the types of cyanotic heart disease?

There are two types of cyanotic heart disease which include: 

  • Cyanotic congenital heart disease- It inculcates heart defects that lead to reducing the oxygen amount throughout the body. It is also referred to as critical congenital heart disease. 
  • Acynaotic congenital heart disease- This type is known as a defect that doesn’t interrupt the oxygen amount delivered to the body.

What are the causes of cyanotic heart disease?

According to healthcare professionals, more research is in-line to understand the primary causes of cyanotic heart disease. However, there are cases that are linked to many factors such as:

  • Diseases in mothers during pregnancy like diabetes 
  • Genetics 
  • Abnormal chromosomes

What are cyanotic heart disease symptoms?

People with cyanotic heart disease might begin to observe the symptoms at the initial onset of the illness. It is important to be mindful of the symptoms so that timely treatment can be considered. Here are some of the cyanotic heart disease symptoms: 

  • Fluid in the lungs 
  • Irregular heart rate 
  • Fast heart rate 
  • Irritability 
  • Lethargy 
  • Heart murmur 
  • Sweating
  • Slow weight gain
  • Discoloration of the skin like bluish or purple in color 
  • Oxygen levels are low
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Rapid breathing

What is the process for cyanotic heart disease diagnosis?

Cyanotic heart disease diagnosis is initiated by a healthcare expert. It is primarily diagnosed when a child is born and if fetal ultrasound detects any issue with the heart of a baby, then the doctor will recommend a fetal echocardiogram. With this test, doctors can gain detailed access to a baby’s heart through images. There are other test methods also used for diagnosing cyanotic heart diseases which include: 

  • Chest X-ray: It is useful in taking chest pictures and detecting any structural anomalies. It assists the healthcare expert to understand if the baby is suffering from any heart or lung problems. 
  • Hyperoxia test: This test benefits in determining if the child has a lung issue or cyanotic congenital heart disease. The healthcare expert can also detect if the oxygen in the blood is receiving normal air to breathe or not. 
  • Electrocardiogram: With this test, the doctor can determine the heart's electrical activity. 
  • Echocardiogram: This test involves creating the heart valves and chamber pictures.

What are the options for cyanotic heart disease treatment?

Cyanotic treatment methods entirely rely on the particular defect and its extent. In various cases, surgical interference is required for the underlying abnormalities. There are numerous options for the treatment of cyanotic heart disease which includes: 

  • Surgical Repair: This treatment option is recommended to treat the defects like ventricular septal defects, blood flow redirection, and narrowed valves or arteries. 
  • Palliative Procedures: In cases that are intricate, palliative procedures are performed for poor blood flow improvement and alleviating symptoms till the time comprehensive surgery is performed. 
  • Medications: Medications are recommended for the management of symptoms, controlling blood pressure, blood clot prevention, or heart function improvement.
  • Oxygen Therapy: Supplemental oxygen is required for improving oxygenation and relieving cyanosis symptoms.
  • Regular Follow-up: Patients with cyanotic heart disease have to ensure frequent follow-ups with a cardiologist lifelong for assessing the condition, improving heart function, and addressing any problems that might occur in the future.


Cyanotic heart disease involves a range of congenital heart defects that leads to inappropriate blood oxygenation. While it can cause major changes, regular advancements in clinical science and surgical techniques have hugely enhanced the perspective of people who are affected. Early detection, the right treatment, and constant medical care are important for the management of cyanotic heart disease efficiently. 

People with cyanotic heart disease can simply lead a life that is fulfilling and accomplish their goals with full potential. The most important step an individual with cyanotic heart disease needs to take is consulting a cardiac healthcare expert on time to manage the disease. If you are diagnosed with the disease, you can reach out to the BM Birla Heart Research Centre as they have the most experienced and talented cardiologists in Kolkata and across the eastern region. All you need to do is book an appointment with them and you are good to go.


What is the most common cyanotic disease?

Tetralogy of Fallot is identified to be among the common cyanotic diseases. 

Which cyanotic heart disease is incompatible with life?

In congenital cyanotic heart disease, great vessel transportation is not easy, and before birth, oxygenated blood is easy to pass on through ductus arteriosus, however, this arrangement is not compatible with life after birth. 

How do you manage cyanotic heart defects?

Surgical repair is the best solution for cyanotic heart defect management and other than that regular checkups are important.