Heart Problems in Children

About 1% of children are born with congenital heart diseases. Most of them would not have any symptoms to begin with. There are variety of ways a baby or child is diagnosed to have a heart condition. Some are detected on antenatal scans, some are detected during routine new born or baby checks, some are diagnosed by doctors when children present for some other illness. Only a few children present with symptoms are due to heart defects.

Common symptoms related to heart problems

Shortness of breath, lips going blue, and being unable to complete feeds in babies are common symptoms of a serious heart condition. Some children may have dizziness, fast heart rate, palpitations, poor wight gain, collapse or fainting as the first presenting symptom of a serious heart condition. Chest pain is usually not a sign of heart condition in children but this needs an assessment by a paediatrician.

Heart Murmur

Most children with heart conditions come to the attention of paediatricians because a GP or someone heard a heart murmur during a routine examination. A heart murmur is a noise heard with the stethoscope while listening to a child’s chest.

All heart murmurs do not signify a serious heart condition, in fact the vast majority of heart murmurs are so called “innocent” heart murmurs. As this name suggests, they are innocent and usually the heart is normal in these children. However it is important to remember that not all doctors are experienced enough to make a definitive diagnosis of innocent heart murmurs and hence they may refer your child to a paediatrician or a paediatirc cardiologist.

Many children with significant congenital heart disease are noted to have heart murmur which requires further investigations like an Echocardiogram, ECG or Chest xray.