Heart Disease in Children – Types, Symptoms, Causes

One out of every 100 children has a heart condition, commonly known as a heart defect or congenital (existing at birth) heart disease. Heart disease in children is typically treatable with medication, surgery, or other medical procedures. In addition, most heart-related tests are straightforward, quick, and painless. As a result, most children with heart abnormalities have normal lives with little or no restrictions thanks to preventative methods and advanced imaging services.

While certain pediatric cardiac diseases cannot be avoided, there are warning signals that parents may watch for and actions they can take that can lead to early intervention and improved results for their children and teenagers.

This article will tell you about the types of heart disease in children, their symptoms, causes, and how they affect children.

Signs of a Heart Problem in Children

There are normally no symptoms of heart disease in children. They seem healthy, and their parents are unaware of their condition. If a kid does develop symptoms, they usually appear within the first several weeks of life. Here are the symptoms of heart disease in children:

  • The blue color on the lips and skin
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Weak growth
  • Light skin tone
  • Fatigue.

A decreased oxygen supply causes these symptoms of heart disease in children to the body, which occurs when the blood lacks oxygen, or the heart does not pump as efficiently as it should.


Heart Diseases in Babies

In addition to the symptoms above, infants with probable cardiac issues may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Having difficulty gaining weight
  • Even when resting, fast or quick breathing or trouble breathing
  • Eating may be exhausting.
  • Feeding comes with sweating.

Contact your doctor immediately if you observe any of these symptoms of common heart defects in newborns.


Heart problems in young children

Look for the following in early children:

  • Chest pains
  • Passing out during vigorous action or exercise.
  • Heart palpitations. A child’s heartbeat that feels strange or fluttery.
  • Shortness of breath when playing or being physically active.


Heart problems in teens

Symptoms of heart disease in children (teenagers) are comparable to those in younger children. Teens who participate in sports have previously had a physical assessment with their physician, including questions designed to detect any cardiac issues early. If your teen athlete feels chest discomfort or other cardiac symptoms while participating in sports, consider arranging a test and examination with a pediatric cardiologist.


What Causes a Heart Disease in Children?

Sometimes there is a flaw in the heart’s walls or an issue with the valves. This suggests that either the blue and red blood are tangled, or the heart is not pumping efficiently. When these issues arise, the body may not receive as much oxygen as it should.

A cardiac abnormality usually arises while the infant is still developing in the uterus. It is not triggered because of anything the mother did throughout pregnancy, and doctors frequently cannot determine why the condition occurred. Heart disease in children can sometimes be inherited. In addition, certain childhood ailments can sometimes cause cardiac damage.

A viral infection can cause cardiac issues in children (a virus). This is, however, exceedingly unusual.


Types of Heart Disease in Children

Pediatric heart defect types are unusual and difficult to treat when they occur in children, and they can be extremely catastrophic.

Children might suffer from a wide list of heart defects. Congenital heart problems, viral infections that impact the heart, and even heart disease developed later in infancy due to diseases or genetic disorders are examples.

The good news is that, because of advancements in medication and technology, many kids with heart disease can enjoy active, fulfilling lives.


Congenital Heart Disease in Children

A congenital heart disease is a form of heart problem that occurs in children at birth and is mainly caused by congenital abnormalities in the heart. CHD affects around 1% of newborns born in the United States annually. Children are affected by the following CHDs:

  • Aortic valve constriction inhibits blood flow and is an example of a heart valve problem.
  • The left side of the heart is deficient in hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
  • Hole problems in the heart, most often in the walls between the chambers and in major blood arteries leaving the heart, include:
    • Abnormalities in the ventricular septal
    • Patent ductus arteriosus
    • Atrial septal abnormalities
  • Tetralogy of Fallot is a collection of four disorders, which include:
    • A hole in the ventricular septal
    • A narrowed way between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery
    • A thickening of the right side of the heart
    • An aorta that has shifted

Congenital cardiac abnormalities can have long-term health consequences for a kid. Surgery, catheter treatments, medicines, and, in extreme situations, heart transplants are frequently used to treat them. Some youngsters may require ongoing monitoring and therapy for the rest of their lives.



The accumulation of fatty and cholesterol-filled clots inside arteries is referred to as atherosclerosis. As the accumulation worsens, arteries harden and constrict, increasing the likelihood of blood clots and heart attacks. Atherosclerosis normally develops over a long period. However, it is rare for children or teens to be affected by it.

Excess weight, diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions, on the other hand, put children at greater risk. Physicians advise monitoring for high cholesterol and blood pressure in children who are overweight and have risk factors like a family history of heart problems or diabetes. Treatment usually includes lifestyle adjustments such as increased activity and dietary changes.



An arrhythmia is a cardiac rhythm disorder. As a result, the heart may pump less effectively.

  • Arrhythmias of several sorts can develop in children, including:
  • A rapid heart rate (tachycardia), with supraventricular tachycardia being the most prevalent kind among youngsters
  • A sluggish heart rate
  • Q-T prolongation syndrome
  • The syndrome of Wolff-Parkinson-White

Symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty feeding

Treatment options vary depending on the kind of arrhythmia and how it affects the child’s health.


Kawasaki Heart Disease in Children

Kawasaki illness is an uncommon condition that predominantly affects children and causes inflammation of blood vessels in the hands, mouth, lips, feet, and neck. It also causes a fever and lymph node enlargement. However, researchers have yet to determine what’s causing it.

This illness is a leading cause of heart disease in up to one in every four youngsters. The majority are under the age of five.

Treatment is determined by the severity of the disease, although it frequently includes rapid administration of intravenous gamma globulin or aspirin. Corticosteroids can occasionally decrease the risk of future difficulties. Children with this illness may require lifelong follow-up checkups to monitor their heart function.


Heart murmurs

A heart murmur is a “whooshing” sound produced by blood flowing through the chambers or valves of the heart or via blood arteries near the heart. It is frequently innocuous. It may also indicate an underlying cardiovascular disease at times.

CHDs, fever, or anemia can all induce heart murmurs. If a doctor detects an irregular heart murmur in a kid, extra testing will be performed to ensure the heart is healthy. “Innocent” heart murmurs normally disappear on their own, but if a cardiac issue triggers the heart murmur, it may necessitate extra therapy.



An inflammation or infection of the thin sac or membrane surrounding the heart (pericardium) leads to this condition. As a result, there is an increase in the fluid between the heart’s two layers, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively.

Pericarditis can develop during CHD surgery, and bacterial infections, chest injuries, or connective tissue illnesses like lupus can induce it. Treatments are determined by the intensity of the sickness, the kid’s age, and general health.


Rheumatic Heart Disease in Children

Strep throat, rheumatic heart disease, and scarlet fever can all be caused by the streptococcus bacteria.

This heart disease in children has the potential to harm the heart valves and muscles permanently. Rheumatic fever often affects children aged 5 to 15, although the signs of rheumatic heart problems do not appear until 10 to 20 years after the initial infection. Rheumatic fever and heart disease are now infrequent in the United States. This condition can be avoided if strep throat is treated immediately with antibiotics.


Viral Infections

Viruses can influence heart health and produce respiratory sickness or the flu. Myocarditis can be caused by viral infections, which can impair the heart’s capacity to pump blood throughout the body.

Heart viral infections are uncommon and may present with few symptoms. However, when symptoms occur, they are comparable to those of the flu, such as exhaustion, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Medication and therapies for myocarditis symptoms are used in therapy.


When to See a Doctor for Heart Disease in Children?

Consult your doctor if your kid exhibits any of the signs of a heart defect. You will be sent to a doctor or pediatric cardiologist (a specialist in children’s heart disease). Several tests are used to identify cardiac abnormalities, the majority of which are basic, rapid, and painless:

  • Chest X-ray. It is a quick and easy X-ray of the chest.
  • ECG (electrocardiogram). Wires are placed on the skin of the chest, arms, and legs. The wires record the electrical impulses of the heart. It’s fairly quick, and your child will feel the sticky spots of the wires. Your child must lie calm for approximately a minute, which can be difficult because little toddlers move a lot.
  • An ultrasound scan (also known as an echocardiogram or an echo) is a procedure in which a portable scanner is put on the chest and stomach and produces an image of the heart on a TV display. As the scanner is pushed hard, your youngster will feel some pressure. It is not painful, although it may be unpleasant.

Because your kid must lay quite motionless for these testing, they may be sedated. This is generally a beverage they consume, or a syringe sprayed up their nose. There will be no needles used.


How Will a Heart Defect Affect my Child?

Some parents are concerned that their kids may die unexpectedly. Fortunately, this is quite uncommon among kids. Most children with cardiac abnormalities are successfully treated, and many have busy and healthy lives.

It’s natural to be concerned about your child if they have a cardiac condition. Despite this, many children may be autonomous, participate in competitive sports, and do practically everything that other children do with little limits. Consult your doctor to determine what degree of physical exercise is appropriate for your kid.

If your kid’s daycare facility, kindergarten, or school is worried about your child participating in regular activities, or if you receive conflicting advice from another health expert, speak with your child’s cardiologist and request a letter outlining what your child can and cannot do.


Heart Disease in Children: Let’s Recap

Children’s heart issues are often split into two groups: congenital heart disease, abnormalities apparent at birth, and acquired heart disease, which develops as the kid grows older.

Despite how frightening it may appear to have a child with a heart ailment, breakthroughs in modern medicine have substantially improved results for children with heart disease, and most children with heart problems grow up healthy and flourish.

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