Cardiac Assessment in Down Syndrome

Cardiac abnormalities are frequently encountered in infants and children with Down syndrome, with the incidence of congenital heart disease estimated to be between 40-62%. Atrioventricular Septal Defect is most common (59%), followed by Ventricular Septal Defect (19%), Atrial Septal Defect (9%), Tetralogy of Fallot (6%), Patent Ductus Arteriosis (4%), and other cardiac abnormalities (3%). Additionally, recent studies have suggested that children and adolescents with Down syndrome frequently demonstrate mitral valve prolapse or insufficiency, and/or atrial regurgitation. Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for these individuals prior to any surgical or dental intervention.

Although cardiac defects are typically discovered during the neonatal period, and repaired during the first year, the clinician should monitor cardiac function closely in order to detect potential problems or deterioration in cardiac function. Thorough cardiac auscultation should be performed, and cardiology consultation ordered as indicated.

This material is taken in part from: Patterson, Bonnie (2003). "Down Syndrome Medical Issues Research." PowerPoint Presentation given at Healthcare Symposium. Shriner's Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, June 21, 2003

Pueschel, S.M., and Sustrova, M. (1997). Selected medical conditions. In S.M. Pueschel & M. Sustrova (Eds.), Adolescents with Down syndrome: Toward a more fulfilling life (pp. 47-55). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing