Abnormal heartbeats, also known as cardiac arrhythmias, aren’t a condition which only affects adults. In fact, this condition can also occur in children. Hence, identifying the symptoms on time and properly treating the condition is of crucial importance. Your doctor will be able to establish your child’s risk for arrhythmia, as well as, recommend diagnostic tests for arrhythmia. Here are all the types of cardiac arrhythmia in children.
Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)
Just like all types of cardiac arrhythmias, the Long QT Syndrome is a disorder of the heart’s electrical system. This condition indicates that ventricles take too long to contract and release. The gap of time necessary for completing a cycle can be measured and compared to normal averages for children.
This cardiac arrhythmia can be either here ditary or occur as a side effect of medications. However, it’s important to note that some arrhythmias related to LQTS can cause sudden cardiac arrest and are potentially fatal.
Besides the fact that children with LQTS might not experience any symptoms, some of the most common symptoms of this condition include:
- Irregular heart rate or rhythm
- Fluttering in the chest
When it comes to the treatment for LQTS, it usually includes beta-blockers and surgical procedures such as an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).
Children can experience irregular heart rhythms due to premature or extra contractions. The premature beats that start in the atria are known as premature atrial contractions, or PACs. On the other hand, the beats which start in the ventricles are known as premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs. Hence, if your child says that their heart “skipped a beat,” it usually means that they’ve experienced a contraction.
This is a common condition in normal children and teenagers. There isn’t any special treatment for premature contractions. So, they can disappear after a while and usually aren’t cause for concern.
Tachycardia is a condition in which the heart rate of your child is too fast. How the condition is defined depends on your child’s age and physical condition.
Sinus tachycardia is a normal increase in the heart rate in children. It requires no treatments and it’s usually a result of exercise, increased thyroid activity, fever, or excitement.
Supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, is the most common tachycardia in children. Other names for SVT include, atrial tachycardia, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. This condition means that the electrical signals in atria fire abnormally, which interferes with electrical impulses coming from the sinoatrial (SA) node. As a result, the child experiences a faster heart rate. This condition is also common in infants.
This condition isn’t a life-threatening issue and treatment is only recommended when the condition persists. The most common symptoms of SVT in children include:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest discomfort
- Upset stomach
Some of the possible SVT treatment options for children are medications, ablation, or cardioversion.
Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW)
This is another disorder which happens when the electrical pathways between the atria and the ventricles of the child’s heart malfunction. This allows electrical signals to reach the ventricles prematurely. Then, the electrical signals can be returned to the atria which can trigger overly fast heart rates. Children with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome can greatly benefit from medications. However, when the medications don’t help, catheter ablation and surgical procedures might be necessary.
Ventricular tachycardia is a fast heart rate which begins in the ventricles of the child’s heart.This is one of the rarest conditions which a child can experience and it can be quite serious. Hence, the condition requires immediate medical attention and can be the culprit for serious heart disease. In order to diagnose ventricular tachycardia, children will have to undergo specialized tests, such as an intracardiac electrophysiologic procedure. Besides medications, other treatments can be radio frequency ablation and surgery.
Bradycardia means that the child’s heart rate is too slow. However, the child’s age determined what’s too slow, as well as, other factors. In newborns that usually means having a heart rate under 80 beats a minute, which in teenagers it can be low as 50 beats a minute.
Sick Sinus Syndrome
Your child heart rate is likely to slow down when the sinus node doesn’t fire its electrical signals properly. The condition is known as sick sinus syndrome and can either cause bradycardia or tachycardia in children. This condition is quite rare in children. However, children who have it either have no symptoms or might feel dizzy or tired. Treatment options include medications, an artificial pacemaker or a combination of both.
Complete Heart Block
When the heart’s electrical signals can’t pass normally from the upper chambers of the heart to the lower chambers it can cause a heart block. So, without electrical impulses from the sinoatrial node, the ventricles will still contract and pump blood, but at a slower rate than usual. This condition is usually triggered by disease or a heart muscle injury made during surgery. Additionally, congenital heart block might also be present in the womb. Treating a complete heart block usually requires an artificial pacemaker.
Hence, if your child has some kind of cardiac arrhythmias, you might want to learn to check your child’s heart rate from time to time. Additionally, it might be best if you learn how to slow their heart rate and manage the necessary medications.