Heart Failure in Children and Adolescents – What You Should Know

Let us understand things from a layman’s perspective. The heart is a pump and it is typically divided into a right and left side. Each side is further equipped with an upper and lower section. The right side of the heart receives the “blue” blood which is devoid of oxygen. The right side of the heart pumps the blood to the lungs where oxygen is added. The oxygen poor blood which is pumped to the lungs then returns to the left side of the heart as “red” oxygen enriched blood. This blood is then pumped into the aorta, which distributes it throughout the body for providing the much necessary nutrients and oxygen for body growth and for carrying out the normal body functions. As the Oxygen is removed from the blood, it then returns back to the right side of the heart. This cycle continues this way. The heart muscle receives red oxygen enriched blood from special blood vessels known as the “coronary arteries.”


Image Credit = Huffington Post

What Is Heart Failure in Children and Adolescents?

For the child to grow and develop in a healthy way the heart needs to maintain the normal pump function. Unfortunately the heart of a child may not function normally. The term “heart failure” thus describes a situation wherein the heart has not been functioning properly. Although it doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped working, but it means that the heart is not working as well as it should.

In adults heart failure occurs due to effects of high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, coronary artery disease and due to other heart related problems. Heart problem can also occur in infants, newborns, toddlers and teenagers for other reasons. Since heart failure has a number of causes and outcomes, it’s highly important to recognize how heart disease is diagnosed, treated and cured in younger children.

So, what Causes Heart Failure in Children??

There are 2 primary reasons for heart failure in children and adolescents While the first, called “overcirculation failure,” the second is known as the “pump failure.”

Overcirculation Failure: statistical data reveals about 1% of all the newborn babies have some kind of structural heart defect. The most common is however holes between the right and left chambers inside the heart. The holes allow the red and the blue blood to get mixed inside the heart. Not only these holes but abnormal heart valves also cause the heart to fail. These defects can cause heart failure due to overcirculation and overload of blood flow pattern. Also; anemia can result into heart failure

Pump Failure: Yes, a child’s heart may also develop pump failure. This can often be caused by virus infection, which damages the normal heart muscle or cause problems with the coronary arteries, certain birth defects may also cause this. Often some necessary drugs that are used for treating some other medical problem such as cancer or leukemia may also cause damage to the heart muscle.

How Is Heart Failure in children identified?

In infants, heart failure often presents trouble such as breathing problem, poor growth sand excessive amount of sweating and even low blood pressure. Even at times, heart failure in children can look like other problems like pneumonia, or other bronchial or respiratory infections. At times parents may feel rapid heartbeat through the chest wall if the heart failure is caused by rapid heartbeat.

Talk to the cardiologist in Kolkata to take care of your child’s heart health. If in case the doctor suspects that your child is experiencing any symptoms of heart failure, he may ask to perform a chest X-Ray to determine the possible causes. If required he may refer you to a pediatric heart specialist for further testing and testing.

Treatment for heart failure in children

If the heart failure is caused by overcirculation due to a birth defect, surgery stands as the only option to repair the defect. Since overcirculation leads to poor growth the child physician may also consider nutritional supplements. Other significant dietary changes such as low fat and low salt diet are also recommended. With appropriate treatment, your child’s heart condition and symptoms may improve.

On the other hand; if pump failure is the reason behind the complication, medications that lower blood pressure are prescribed. In certain cases, surgery can also be required for replacing a damaged heart valve.

Yes, heart failure can happen to children but it’s not entirely a hopeless condition as many of the causes are repairable.

It’s important to make an informed decision and consult with a cardiologist in Kolkata to ensure proper medical care is provided to your little one.

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