The condition at the heart of Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue

People can’t stop talking about the emotional monologue Jimmy Kimmel delivered on his talk show Monday night. With tears in his eyes, the host shared that his newborn son was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, after a nurse discovered a heart murmur and blueish color. For a better understanding, we asked Joseph A. Greenlee, III, MD, PPG – Cardiovascular Surgery, to shed more light on this condition and what parents need to know about the risk.

Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia is one of the five most common forms of congenital heart defects we see in children. Essentially, it’s a constellation of abnormalities, typically on the right side of the heart. A hole in the wall between chambers of the heart causes deoxygenated blood to be shifted to the other side of the heart without enough oxygen.

Often, a physician will detect a heart defect in utero and perform an ultrasound to get a better understanding of the baby’s condition. This is why good prenatal care is so important. But heart defects can also surface after a child’s first or second year, or even later in development. Patients typically see good results from surgery and go on to thrive.  

6 Signs of a Congenital Heart Defect

1. Blueish/purplish color, known as cyanosis
2. Detection of a heart murmur
3. Poor respiration when eating
4. Failure to grow
5. Low stamina when active
6. Inability to keep up with peers

If you suspect a heart-related issue with your child, contact your pediatrician or primary care provider. If you notice a sudden change in color, take your child to the Emergency Department immediately. 

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