Cyanosis is a condition in which the lips, fingers, and toes appear blue. It happens in some people with congenital heart defects that cause the blood to circulate abnormally.
In normal circulation, oxygen-poor blood enters the right side of the heart. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs, where the blood picks up oxygen. From there, it enters the left side of the heart, which pumps the oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
In people with congenital heart defects, cyanosis can happen if the defect allows oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart to enter the left side of the heart directly, instead of traveling to the lungs for more oxygen. In the left side of the heart, the oxygen-poor blood mixes with oxygen-rich blood to be pumped through the body.
Although oxygen-poor blood is not blue, it is not as bright red as oxygen-rich blood. The low oxygen level in the blood is what makes the lips, fingers, and toes look blue.
Congenital heart defects that cause cyanosis include
See also on other sites:
Cyanotic Heart Disease
Skin discoloration - bluish (cyanosis)
Texas Adult Congenital Heart Center (TACH) program
https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/congenital-heart enables patients with congenital heart disease to receive a seamless continuation of care from birth to old age.
Updated December 2013