Follow-Up Care With a Cardiologist
Although the surgical options to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome are effective, they are not considered cures, and patients will still need follow-up care with a cardiologist for the rest of their lives. Even after the Fontan operation, hypoplastic left heart syndrome has a high risk of complications such as heart failure and heart rhythm abnormalities. Patients may also develop cirrhosis of the liver and protein-losing enteropathy, and they may experience slow growth, reduced physical strength, and developmental delays.
During follow-up care with a cardiologist, the doctor will first check the child’s heart for any complications. They will check the child’s pulse and blood pressure and listen to the heart for any abnormal sounds or rhythms. The clinician will also examine the child’s breathing and check for any signs of shortness of breath. The cardiologist can check the child’s growth and strength, and they may also wish to refer the patient to other specialists for additional care. For example, children who are growing slowly may need to have a feeding tube or other nutritional support treatments, and patients with reduced physical strength may need to see a physical or occupational therapist. The cardiologist can also advise patients and their families about the latest surgical interventions that may be helpful for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.