What Does Cardiac Arrhythmia Mean for My Child?

What Does Cardiac Arrhythmia Mean for My Child?
Smiling Doctor In Surgery Examining Young Girl With Mother.

In 2018, 6.2 million young adolescents and children succumbed to preventable diseases, according to data released by UNICEF. Non-communicable ailments, like cardiovascular diseases, are one of the major causes of health risks among children. The good news, however, is that with a well-balanced lifestyle and timely medical help, it can be prevented or treated.

What is Arrhythmia – An Overview

In simple terms, Arrhythmia is a condition that affects individuals with congenital heart disease. This can also affect children, where the rhythm of the heartbeat becomes abnormal. The heart might start beating too quick or too slowly. Normally, it pumps blood is a synchronized and uniform manner, at regular intervals. But children suffering from this condition might face skipped beats or extra beats.

However, parents must understand that irregular heartbeats can at times be nothing to worry about. While performing physical activities, like running, skipping or climbing stairs, the heart rate might spike up, along with heavy breathing. This does not constitute Arrhythmia.

Types of Arrhythmia in Children

One associated condition is Long QT Syndrome. In this, the heart ventricles take too long to release and contract. Tachycardia is when the heart rate is faster than the usual 70-110 beats per minute. This can be further classified into Sinus Tachycardia, Ventricular Tachycardia and Supraventricular Tachycardia. Complete heart block, Sick Sinus Syndrome, Wolff Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome and Premature Atrial Contraction are other forms of Arrhythmia in children.

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Most of the types are harmless but as a responsible parent, you must understand that a few could be life threatening. Here are the symptoms to look for before consulting the doctor immediately.

  • A constant feeling of weakness and tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded from time to time
  • Experiencing heart palpitations
  • Fainting or near fainting at regular intervals
  • Disinterested in eating or not eating properly
  • Shortness of breath and low blood pressure
  • Visible paleness on the face
  • Sweating and chest pain
  • Consistent irritability in infants

These can be treated with several techniques, such as surgery, radiofrequency ablation, implantable cardioverter defibrillator and medicines. While some children might not require treatments, many will have to undergo screenings, depending on their overall health, age and symptoms.

Taking Care of a Child with Arrhythmia

The doctors often take it upon themselves to educate parents about various conditions and how to deal with them. Therefore, learn ways to help your child slow down an increased heart rate. Gagging and coughing can work wonders in this case. Try to monitor the heart beat whenever possible by listening with a stethoscope. Count the number of beats to check if the heart is functioning normally. Know the emergency steps to take in case reaching the doctor is not feasible at the moment. Lastly, manage the medication consistently.

Keep in touch with your child’s doctor and never stop medication without their permission. Also, teach the little one about congenital heart diseases and how to identify the symptoms. These steps will go a long way to ensure a healthy and safe life.

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