There are thousands of cases reported each year of children born with heart diseases. It is also a well known fact that more than half of the obese children suffer from one or the other form of heart diseases . Obesity is not only a risk for cardiovascular issues but various other health conditions and diseases including diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Parents should be well informed on the subject matter of heart diseases in children as well as the symptoms involved. This information will go a long way in the early detection and proper management of the various heart diseases that may affect your kids.
Symptoms of Heart Diseases in Children
Early detection is essential in a sensitive situation such as heart disease in children. The disease can be better managed at the earlier stages and can save the lives of thousands of children. In addition to this, detecting diseases related to heart earlier will help stop the damage and the child will not develop any further complications. The situation usually gets worse if the parents and doctors detect the condition a few years later when the damage is irreparable.
The following are some of the common symptoms that children with heart diseases exhibit.
One of the most common symptoms of heart disease in children is that certain parts of the body turn blue. It mostly occurs around the mouth, fingers or toes. The blue colouring might also appear on the head or the chest of the child. It is a clear signal towards the lack of oxygen in the blood pumped from the heart.
What is it actually: The medical term for this occurrence is known as ‘Cyanosis’. It is the lack of oxygen which is responsible for the blue colouring on different parts of the body. Cyanosis might reflect the presence of a structural defect in the heart.
2. Breathing Problems:
Breathing problems in children can also be an indication of an underlying heart problem. Affected kids constantly take deep breaths as they are unable to get enough air. Such children usually find it difficult to participate in sports and other activities as they run out of air after a short while. Parents are advised not to dismiss this symptom under the notion that their child is unfit. In addition to this, infants who get out of breath after a feed should be taken to the paediatrician for proper examination.
3. Irregular Heartbeats:
Irregular heartbeats are another sign that your child might be suffering from a heart disease. Nowadays, arrhythmia (Irregular Heart Beat) is taken more seriously and heart check up is conducted to find out if there is an underlying heart condition. Irregular heartbeats are often observed during routine checkups, even before the actual heart condition is diagnosed.
What is it actually: It is known as ‘Heart Murmurs’. Before advancement in hospital equipment, doctors would misdiagnose septal defects as simple heart murmurs.
If your child experiences a lot of fainting spells, then a trip to the doctor is essential. Testing will determine if the fainting is a result of the heart defect or not. ‘Dizziness’ and ‘chest pains’ during and after physical exercise are also strong indicators that a child is suffering from a heart problem.
What is it actually: The fainting can be due to a drop in the blood pressure of the child. It can also be an indication towards insufficient amount of oxygenated blood reaching the brain. Fainting due to cardiac complications can be quite dangerous and at times, life threatening, as the spells affect other organs of the body.
Weakness is another potential sign in children with heart complications. They find it very difficult to keep up with their age mates. They are usually less active and get exhausted very fast as compared to their healthy counterparts. Such kids are in constant need of naps during the day while their friends are out playing. They also tend to report that they feel tired after a walk or a jog. In addition, infants who sweat a lot when feeding should undergo tests to determine if there is a heart condition that causes such excess sweating.
Types of heart diseases in children:
Knowing the symptoms of heart disease is important. But one should also be aware of the types of heart diseases that can affect your children. There are various types of heart diseases that children can suffer from.
- STRUCTURAL DEFECT: A baby can be born with a heart that has a structural defect. This condition is usually referred to as a ‘congenital’ heart disease. This disease presents itself in a variety of forms. For instance, a child may be born with holes in the septum. The septum is the wall that divides the right side of the heart from the left. This wall is usually solid for children born without the defect. The holes allow oxygenated blood to move from the left to the right side of the heart and then to the lungs. This movement of blood can eventually lead to the accumulation of blood in the lungs. There is also the possibility of heart failure if the hole is too large.
- COARCTATION: Coarctation is another heart defect that children may be born with. Parts of the aorta (the main artery in the body) becomes narrow, making it very difficult for the blood to reach the lungs and other parts of the body. The heart has to work extra hard to get the blood through the narrow parts of the aorta to the right destinations. This situation results in the blood having low amounts of oxygen which is not only detrimental to the heart, but for other parts of the body as well.
- INFECTIONS: Children can also acquire heart diseases from infections. The most popular infection responsible for acquired heart disease in children is the ‘Kawasaki’ disease. Doctors and scientists have not yet discovered the cause of the disease but they say it occurs more often in boys under the age of five. Children suffering from the condition have damaged coronary arteries. The disease also causes the inflammation of the heart. In many cases, the Kawasaki disease will result in heart failure. Rheumatic fever can also lead to heart diseases in children between the ages of five and fifteen. It is caused by a throat infection that damages the valves of the heart.
Eti is a web enthusiast and blogger from India, she loves to write. She is currently educating people about the diseases and their cure. She is also active on Google+.
 Cohen MS. Clinical practice: the effect of obesity in children with congenital heart disease. PubMed PMID: 22549315.