Kids Health: Heart Problems in Children

Zahra Motorwala, Team iDiva
30 September 2013

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heart ailments in kids
heart ailments in kids


Heart ailments that affect kids

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Seldom do we worry about our kids falling prey to heart problems. They have always been a subject of concern for the aged, but not for happy-go-lucky kids who dance around with joy. Your child, if diagnosed with heart disease, can indeed be a thing of worry. You need to understand your child-rsquo;s condition and what you can expect in the coming months.

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There are two major types of heart problems that affect children. One is congenital, which is by birth and the other is acquired or due to unhealthy lifestyle or infection. Congenital heart disease is when a child is born with an abnormally-structured heart.

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Dr. Zainul Abedin Hamdulay, M.S., M.Ch., D.N.B. (Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon) Consultant to Lilavati, Breach Candy, Wockhardt and Prince Aly Khan Hospitals, Mumbai says, -ldquo;Congenital problems occur as the baby-rsquo;s heart develops during pregnancy in the mother-rsquo;s womb. Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is a defect in the structure of the heart and blood vessels of a new born. It is the most commonly occurring heart defect in children.-rdquo;

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This defect depends on the conditions present at birth that can affect the way the heart functions. One of the most common birth defects, it is also a major cause of lifelong disability and infant death.

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The other is Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) or a condition of damaged heart valves. It is caused by rheumatic fever, which is a result of untreated bacterial infection.

Symptoms

Children show symptoms and signs of congestive cardiac failure such as breathlessness, failure to thrive, poor feeding, excessive sweating and multiple admissions for lung infections.

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Sometimes CHD can be simple and need not require complicated surgeries and medications. Situations wherein there is a small hole between the heart chambers that close on its own may not need any surgery or even at times medication.

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If the disease is complex, such as contraction of the aorta wherein there is a tight narrowing in the aorta (the main blood vessel supplying oxygenated blood) restricting blood flow to the lower part of the body, then it requires immediate surgery. A surgery over a period of time may have to be performed to avoid unfortunate circumstances.

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-ldquo;If at all a child has encountered a health problem, immediately consult a paediatrician. It is best to get kids treated completely for fever and infections so that they do not become victims of RHD,-rdquo; says Dr. Hamdulay.

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It is also important to pay attention to what your child eats. Make sure they consume healthy and hygienic food. Physical hygiene is also important, especially cleaning the teeth properly.

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Abnormal heart sound or heart murmur when listening to the heartbeat can also indicate trouble in toddlers.

Treatment

-ldquo;The treatment and medicines used and how well the baby responds to them depends on the congenital heart condition. Many defects need to be followed carefully. Some will heal over time, while others will need to be treated,-rdquo; Dr. Hamdulay.

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Some congenital heart diseases can be treated with medication alone. Others need to be treated with one or more heart surgeries.

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As congenital heart disease is a birth defect, it cannot be avoided. Thus, care should be taken when your child is in the womb. It is important to:

1. Inform your doctor about your pregnancy before starting any medication.

2. Avoid smoking and alcohol intake.

3. Get vaccinated for flu or fever.

4. Avoid contact with people who have infection.

5. Have your blood sugar checked and maintain it.

6. It is also advised to go for 2D echo to assess the heart condition of the baby in womb.

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Image courtesy: -copy;Thinkstock/ Getty Images

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