Here’s All You Need To Know About Heart Diseases In Kids

Here’s All You Need To Know About Heart Diseases In Kids

6 Oct 2022 | 5 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 740 Articles

Our heart is so important that it’s no wonder that people worry when they find out about heart problems. Also called cardiovascular disease, heart disease may predominantly affect older people but the younger generation is not entirely immune to it.

Heart diseases such as problems with arteries, heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes can affect a child from birth or can happen later as a defect. 

What Is A Heart Disease?

The heart is the main centre of the cardiovascular system. The heart pumps blood to all of the body’s cells through the body’s blood vessels and the blood carries oxygen which is needed by the cells. Now, cardiovascular disease occurs when the heart and blood vessels do not work optimally.

child heart attack and Heart Diseases In Kids
Child heart attack is rare and only happens if there are certain heart conditions like congenital heart disease / Image credit – Canva

How Does One Get A Heart Disease?

Heart disease isn’t infectious and one can’t catch it like the flu or a cold. There are certain things that can increase the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases, also noted as risk factors.
There are some risk factors like old age or a history of heart ailments in the family. However, one can have control over some risk factors like smoking, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure and excessive weight gain. All of these can increase the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.

Can Kids Have Heart Diseases?

Kids normally don’t have any symptoms of heart and blood vessel problems. However, by starting to adopt heart-healthy habits right from the beginning, you can reduce their chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Defects

There are many children who appear healthy despite having heart defects and show no symptoms. In fact, you may not know they have a heart problem. If a child does have symptoms, he/she can develop them in the first few weeks after they are born. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Blue colour around the lips and blue skin known as cyanosis
  • Poor growth
  • Difficulty feeding as the child especially becomes sweaty during feeds
  • Shortness of breath

All these symptoms result from a reduced oxygen supply to the body. This happens as a result of blood not getting enough oxygen or the heart not pumping enough blood.

Child Heart Attack

It is extremely rare for a heart attack in childhood. But some potential causes of a child heart attack include the following:

Congenital Heart Disease
Children with a history of certain congenital heart defects are at higher risk than others of having a heart attack from the blockage of a coronary artery.

Anomalous Origin Of The Left Coronary Artery
One example of congenital heart disease is the anomalous origin that happens in the left coronary artery. This happens when the heart and blood vessels are developing.

Acquired Heart Disease

Acquired heart conditions are the ones that develop after birth. Here are some conditions a child may develop.

Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic fever can be a result of untreated strep throat or strep pharyngitis. However, this is uncommon in places where doctors treat strep throat on time with antibiotics.

Rheumatic fever if not treated promptly by doctors can lead to long-term heart damage or rheumatic heart disease. 

Kawasaki Disease
This heart condition affects the coronary arteries because of the acute inflammation and the formation of coronary artery aneurysms. This in turn may cause a myocardial infarction.

The condition also causes sudden fever. Some other symptoms include:

  • Irritation and inflammation of the lips, throat and mouth
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Redness and irritation in the whites of the eyes
  • Swelling in the hands and feet

Chest Trauma
According to research, blunt chest trauma caused due to injury or an accident is considered a rare cause of heart attack in children.

Heart Diseases In Kids – Surgeries

There are different surgeries for the heart and blood vessels that treat heart diseases in kids. These include:

  • Bypass surgery. This involves taking a part of an artery or vein from another part of the body which can be the arm or leg. It is then used to channel blood around a blocked area in an artery.
  • Angioplasty. This involves opening a blocked vessel by using a balloon-like device at an artery’s narrowest point. In this procedure, the doctor may also insert a stent, which is a stainless steel tube tiny in size that props the vessel open and makes sure it stays clear.
  • Atherectomy. In this procedure, the plaque is cut out of an artery so that the blood can flow freely.
  • Pacemakers. A pacemaker is a small electronic device that is inserted inside the body to regulate the heartbeat.
  • Valve replacement. If a heart valve isn’t working or is damaged, a surgeon can replace it.
  • Carotid endarterectomy. This involves a surgeon removing plaque deposits from the carotid artery in order to prevent a stroke.
Heart Diseases In Kids and child heart attack
Heart diseases in kids can happen because someone in the family has had a history of heart problems / Image credit – Canva

There are some parents who worry that heart diseases in kids can cause sudden death. This isn’t the case as fortunately, it is extremely rare in children. Most children with heart problems can be treated successfully and can live active and healthy life. Check with your doctor about the level of physical activity that is safe for your child.

Cover Image credit – Canva



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