Do Children Suffer From Heart Disease? What Symptoms Should I Look For?
Heart Disease is often thought of something that progresses throughout a lifetime of dubious lifestyle choices, and therefore only affects adults; both of which are incorrect. Children can also suffer from heart conditions, and those conditions can go undiscovered until adulthood. Pediatric cardiac disease fall into three general categories: congenital heart defects (CHD), acquired heart diseases, and arrhythmias.
These heart conditions range in severity from those that require immediate intervention to those that will improve on their own with time. For families and our smallest patients, they can all be terrifying. However, advances in pediatric surgery, prenatal testing, and medical research have significantly increased the survival rates and quality of life for children who suffer from heart disease.
What Are Congenital Heart Defects?
Congenital heart defects are anatomical anomalies, present from birth, which involve the heart or surrounding vascular structures and impact cardiac function. There are over 40 different types of congenital heart defects, affecting approximately 1 in 100 live births, half of which will require surgical correction. Congenital heart defects are the #1 birth defect found in every country around the world.
Can Children Acquire Heart Disease?
Acquired cardiac conditions, unlike congenital ones, are often infectious agents that a child acquires after birth, such as Rheumatic heart disease or Kawasaki’s Disease, or are a result of underlying systemic diseases that damage the heart. While children in the developing world are more likely to present with heart disease that develops from conditions such as malaria or malnourishment, those from developed countries are increasingly at risk of heart disease secondary to conditions like obesity and high blood pressure.
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