General Topics

What are Heart Problems in Children? | Cardiology

Overview of heart problems in children

Congenital malformations are abnormalities in the formation of the heart and/or its main blood vessels. These heart problems occur at birth in eight out of 1,000 babies, but go undiagnosed for many years. The abnormalities range from simple defects, such as a small hole in the wall between the two chambers of the heart, to more complex problems.

Although congenital heart defects are one of the most common birth defects, it can be difficult to know if your child has one. Most heart problems recover during pregnancy or immediately after birth, but others may not be apparent until the baby is a little older.

Heart disease in children

Heart disease is very difficult when touched by adults, but it is especially tragic in children. Heart disease can occur for a variety of reasons, from viral infections to chromosomal abnormalities, and can arise as problems secondary to other diseases or conditions in the body. In most cases, the cause of heart disease is unknown.

The good news is that with the advancement of medicine and technology, many children with heart disease are living full and active lives.

Causes of heart problems in children

A congenital heart defect is a condition (or one of the main heart problems in children) that you are born into. Certain genetic (inherited) diseases or disorders, such as Down syndrome, are associated with congenital heart defects. Certain substances or diseases that a pregnant woman is exposed to can cause congenital heart defects in the fetus, some of which include prescription drugs, rubella (German measles), and uncontrolled diabetes.

Risk factors for heart problems in children

Risk factors for these heart problems in children are divided into two categories: major and contributing. The major risk factors of heart problems in children have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease. There is a risk of heart disease due to proportionate risk factors.

If you have higher risk factors, you are more likely to have heart disease. Some risk factors of heart problems in children can change, treat, or modify and others cannot. But by controlling as many risk factors as possible through lifestyle changes, medications, or both, you can lower your risk of heart disease.

Major risk factors for heart problems in children are:

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Gender
  • Heredity
  • Age

Contributing risk factors to heart problems in children are:

  • Stress
  • Sex hormones
  • Birth control pills
  • Alcohol

Symptoms of heart problems in children

  • Heart murmurs (abnormal heartbeats), depending on the location and nature of the disorder.
  • Symptoms of cardiac arrest, increased breathing rate, shortness of breath, tachycardia
  • “Blue baby” syndrome, in which the skin changes color from lack of oxygen to blue or purple.
  • Clubfoot or spread with a nail that extends the fingers and toes
  • An abnormal increase in red blood cell circulation.
  • Liver dilation
  • Pulse that is hard to hear or has no pulse
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Signs of organ failure, including low urine output or kidney failure
  • The expansion of the heart’s chambers results in the need to work harder to overcome the defect.

Diagnosis of heart problems in children

To diagnose a congenital heart defect or any heart problems in children, your doctor may recommend that you or your baby have some of the following tests and procedures:

  • Echocardiography: Track your / your child’s progress over time to diagnose or not diagnose heart failure. Fetal echocardiography can sometimes diagnose congenital heart defects before the baby is born.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): To evaluate the rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • Cardiac catheterization: Measure the pressure and oxygen levels within the chambers of the heart and blood vessels. This helps to know if blood is flowing from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart instead of going to the rest of the body.
  • Chest X-ray: To show if the heart is dilated. It also shows whether there is excess blood flow or excess fluid in the lungs, which is a sign of heart failure.
  • Genetic testing: To find out if specific genes or genetic syndromes like Down syndrome are causing congenital heart defects. Your doctor can refer you or your child to a genetic testing specialist.
  • Cardiac MRI: Track your / your child’s progress over time to diagnose heart failure or not.
  • Pulse oximetry: Estimate the amount of oxygen in the blood. The small sensor is placed on the hand or foot of the baby or on the finger or toe of the elderly person.

Treatment for heart problems in children

Treatment for heart problems in children depends on the part of the heart affected. Some children do not need treatment if the effect on blood flow is minimal. Others require medication or intervention, such as cardiac catheterization or surgery. Some heart problems in children may not be treated right away, but wait until the child is an adult. Some heart problems in children are dealt with in stages. In such cases, there are options:

● Medications: Many medications help the heart work more efficiently. Some are also useful for preventing blood clots and controlling irregular heartbeats.

● Implantable heart devices: Some devices, such as pacemakers, can help control abnormal heart rates and implantable cardiovascular defibrillators (ICDs), which can correct irregular heart rates and prevent some of the problems associated with congenital heart defects.

● Catheter procedures: These allow doctors to surgically correct or repair congenital heart defects without opening the chest or heart. Here, the doctor inserts a catheter through a vein in the leg to guide the heart. Using small tools threaded through the catheter, he/she proceeds to correct the error. With the advancement of technology, many heart defects can be closed at the cathode in cathode procedures. This reduces the risks and complications of heart surgery.

● Open-heart surgery: These may be necessary if catheter procedures do not correct the error. These can close the openings of the heart, dilate the blood vessels, or repair the heart valves.

● Heart transplant: In cases where the congenital heart defect is too difficult to repair, a heart transplant may be used. In the process, the healthy donor heart replaces the patient’s heart.

Complications of heart problems in children

Congenital heart disease or heart problems in children can cause complications including:

  • Arrhythmia: The heart may beat very fast, very slow, or abnormally due to a defect or scarring after surgery.
  • Congestive heart failure: When the heart cannot efficiently pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, symptoms affect various body systems.
  • Heart infections (endocarditis): This infection of the thin layer that lines the inside of the heart occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream from another part of the body and remain in the heart. If left untreated, it can damage your heart valves or lead to a stroke.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: This type of high blood pressure only affects the arteries in the lungs. Some heart defects cause more blood to flow to the lungs. As pressure increases, the heart has to work harder, causing the muscles to weaken and sometimes fail. Permanent damage to the pulmonary artery can also occur.
  • Slower growth and development: Children with severe congenital heart defects may be younger and learn to walk and talk later than other children.
  • Stroke: Although rare, blood clots can travel to the brain through a hole in the heart or occur during corrective surgery.
General Topics

Heart Disease in children & Infants | Cardiology

What is heart disease in children?

Heart disease is very difficult when touched by adults, but it is especially tragic in children. The effect of heart diseases in children is more. These include congenital heart defects, viral infections that affect the heart, and heart disease acquired in childhood due to a genetic disease or syndrome. The good news is that with the advancement of medicine and technology, many children with heart disease are living full and active lives.

Types of heart diseases in children

Here is the most common heart disease in children which are following:

1. Congenital heart disease

If your child has a congenital heart defect, it means that your baby was born with a problem with the structure of his heart. Some congenital heart defects in children are simple and do not require treatment. Other congenital heart defects in children are more complex and require multiple surgeries over many years.

Knowing about your child’s congenital heart defect can help you understand the situation and what to expect in the months and years to come.

Signs & symptoms

In some cases, symptoms of congenital heart disease do not appear until after birth. Newborns with heart defects may experience:

  • Blue lips, skin, fingers, and toes
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Difficulties in eating
  • Low birth weight
  • Chest pain
  • Growth retardation

In other cases, symptoms of a congenital heart defect do not appear until many years after birth. As symptoms develop, they can include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue

2. Atherosclerosis

The formation of fat and cholesterol in the arteries causes the arteries to harden and narrow, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Children can be diagnosed with atherosclerosis just like adults.

Arteries are muscular tubes that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to tissues throughout the body. When the tubes are narrow, they cannot carry blood throughout the body and less blood reaches the tissues.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of your coronary arteries:

Pain or pressure in the upper body, including the chest, arms, neck, or jaw. This is called angina.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Symptoms of the arteries that supply blood to your brain:
  • Numbness or weakness in your arms or legs
  • It is very difficult to speak or understand the speakers.
  • Relax facial muscles
  • Paralysis
  • Intense headache
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes.
  • Symptoms related to the arteries in your arms, legs, and pelvis:
  • Leg pain when walking
  • Numbness
  • Symptoms of the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys:
  • Hypertension
  • Renal insufficiency

3. Arrhythmias

Arrhythmia means any change in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat. If your child has an arrhythmia, her heart may be beating too fast or too slow, or she may have extra or extra beats. Arrhythmia can occur from a physical condition such as heart failure in response to external factors such as fever, infection, and certain medications. Crying and playing also briefly change a child’s heart rate.

Signs & Symptoms

Children with arrhythmia may not have any symptoms. For those who do, these are the most common symptoms:

  • You feel weak
  • Feeling tired
  • Feel your heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Low blood pressure
  • She feels dizzy
  • Epilepsy (syncope)
  • Not eating or eating well

The symptoms of an arrhythmia may be similar to other heart conditions or problems. Make sure your child sees their healthcare provider for a diagnosis

4. Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is a disease in which the blood vessels become inflamed, most often in young children. It is one of the leading causes of heart disease in children. But it can be treated if doctors find it early. Most children recover without problems.

Signs & Symptoms

Kawasaki disease begins with a fever over 102 degrees and lasts for at least five days. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • The rash can appear anywhere on the body but is most severe in the diaper area
  • Red, bloody eyes without pus, discharge, or scabs
  • Swelling and tenderness of the gland (lymph node) on one side of the neck
  • Swelling of the hands and feet with redness of the palms and soles of the feet
  • Very red, swollen, and chapped lips; Strawberry-like tongue with rough red spots
  • Significant irritability and confusion
  • Peel fingers and toes (2 to 3 weeks after onset of fever)

5. Heart murmurs

The heart murmur is the extra or abnormal sounds caused by the turbulent blood flowing through the heart. Murmurs range from 1 to 6, depending on how loud they are. One is a very low murmur. Six means a very loud murmur.

Signs & Symptoms

If you have a benign heart murmur, commonly known as an innocent heart murmur, you have no other signs or symptoms. The abnormal heart murmur doesn’t cause any other obvious signs or symptoms, just put aside the unusual sound your doctor hears when listening to your heart with a stethoscope. If you have these signs or symptoms, they may indicate a heart problem:

  • Skin that appears blue, especially on the fingers and lips
  • Sudden swelling or weight gain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chronic cough
  • Enlarged liver
  • Dilated jugular veins
  • Lack of appetite and lack of normal growth (in babies)
  • Heavy sweating with little or no effort
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Epilepsy

6. Pericarditis

Pericarditis is an inflammation or infection of the pericardium, a thin sac around the heart. There is a small amount of fluid between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium.

When the pericardium is inflamed, the amount of fluid between its two layers increases, compressing the heart and interfering with the heart’s ability to function properly.

Signs & Symptoms

The following are common symptoms of pericarditis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms can include chest pain:

  • Sensation especially behind the breastbone and sometimes the clavicle (clavicle), below the neck and left shoulder
  • Sharp, stabbing pain in the middle or left side of the chest increases when the child breathes deeply
  • Low fever
  • Irritated
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Arrhythmia

Children may not be able to describe themselves as having “chest pain” or explain how they feel. Sometimes children may express specific symptoms such as irritability, loss of appetite, or fatigue.

7. Rheumatic heart disease

Arrhythmia means any change in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat. If your child has arrhythmia, her heart may be beating too fast or too slow, or she may have extra or extra beats. Arrhythmia can occur from a physical condition such as heart failure in response to external factors such as fever, infection, and certain medications. Crying and playing can also briefly change a child’s heart rate.

Signs & Symptoms

Rheumatic fever can be due to:

  • Carditis: inflammation of the heart muscle and heart tissue. Carditis causes a rapid heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath, and exercise intolerance. It is the most serious of symptoms and can have long-term health effects. About 50 percent of people with rheumatic fever develop carditis
  • Arthritis: Swelling, redness, and pain in the joints, especially in the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. It is a common symptom and occurs in about 70 percent of people with rheumatic fever
  • Itchy rash without a splash
  • Subcutaneous nodules – small, tight lumps under the skin
  • Fever
  • Chorea: Involuntary movement of limbs