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Heart Defects in Kids

Congenital Heart Conditions

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease affects about 1 in 100 babies in the United States. With correct diagnosis and current treatments, nearly every type of congenital heart defect can be treated. Congenital heart defects happen during the earliest weeks of pregnancy when the heart is developing. In most cases, the cause of congenital heart defects is unknown, and therefore cannot be prevented. The defects are abnormalities in the structure of the heart that can cause the following problems: too much or too little blood passing through the lungs, too little blood passing through the body, or a combination of several different heart defects.

As part of our Fetal Heart Program, we have the ability to do fetal echocardiograms on pregnant moms if/when there is a suspected heart issue.

When too much blood passes through the lungs:

  • PDA: Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • ASD: Atrial Septal Defect
  • VSD: Ventricular Septal Defect
  • AV Canal: Atrioventricular Canal Defect

When too little blood passes through the lungs:

  • TA: Tricuspid Atresia
  • PA: Pulmonary Atresia
  • TGA: Transposition of the Great Arteries
  • TOF: Tetralogy of Fallot

When too little blood passes through the body:

  • COA: Coarctation of the Aorta
  • AS: Aortic Stenosis
  • PS: Pulmonary Stenosis
  • TAPRV: Total Anomalous Venous Connection

A combination of heart defects:

  • HLHS: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Truncus Arteriosus

Acquired Heart Disease

Unlike congenital heart defects, acquired heart diseases occur after a child is born. Some acquired heart disease can be prevented by recognizing signs and symptoms and seeing your physician. The two most common diagnosed conditions include rheumatic heart disease and Kawasaki disease. Rheumatic heart disease develops from rheumatic fever which is caused by the same bacteria as strep throat. Rheumatic fever affects children between the ages of 5 and 15 years of age, and can potentially create permanent damage to the heart valves. Kawasaki disease affects younger children, usually under the age of five. While Kawasaki is not preventable, there are signs and symptoms that when detected early can allow for a quick recovery. The inflammation of blood vessels can damage coronary arteries, and potentially lead to aneurysms and/or heart attacks.

Heart Arrhythmias/Irregular Heartbeat

Heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, meaning the heart is beating too fast, too slow or in an irregular pattern. Arrhythmias can be present at birth, caused by a birth defect, or can even occur with a normal, healthy heart. Children can also get arrhythmias when they have a chemical imbalance, infection, disease or when taking certain medications. In order for the body to function normally, the correct amount of blood needs to be supplied throughout the body. When the heart is not beating normally, it is not pumping the right amount of blood to the body, which can cause children to be tired, dizzy, weak, and lightheaded.

Healthy Heart Rates for Kids

Age Heart Beats per Minute
0-3 months 100-150
1-3 years 70-110
By the age of 12 55-85

Types of Arrhythmias

The two types of heart arrhythmias are tachycardias and bradycardias.

Tachycardias occurs when the heart beats too fast. Types of tachycardia includes:

  • SVT: Supraventricular Tachycardia
  • WPW: Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome
  • Ventricular Tachycardia

Bradycardias occurs when the hearts beats too slowly. There are two versions of bradycardia, Sick Sinus Syndrome and Heart Block.