An arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart that stops it from pumping blood around the body at a normal rate. It is often described as an irregular heartbeat, which means that a child’s heart can beat too quickly or too slowly, skip a beat, or even have an extra beat.
Some arrhythmias can be dangerous and require treatment, while others are usually harmless. In this blog, we will explore what pediatric arrhythmia is and how it can be treated.
What is pediatric arrhythmia?
The heart has a special electrical system that determines the rate and rhythm of the beats so that it pumps blood around the body. This system has a steady flow until something disrupts it, which is when a pediatric arrhythmia occurs.
Sometimes, a faster heartbeat is perfectly normal, such as when your child is excited, has just done exercise, or has a fever.
What are the symptoms of pediatric arrhythmia?
Typically, your child may display the following symptoms of arrhythmia:
- Heart flutters
- Chest pain
- Rapid breathing
- Low pressure
- Difficulty feeding
What causes pediatric arrhythmia?
If your child has spent too long in the sun, they may show signs of heat exhaustion. In most cases, bringing them inside and giving them fluids will help them to cool down.
- Heart problem present at birth
- Genetic heart condition
- Abnormal levels of chemicals in the bloodstream
- Fever, dehydration
- Viral or bacterial infection
How Is Pediatric Arrhythmia Diagnosed in Kids?
Pediatric arrhythmia will often be diagnosed during routine checkups or while undergoing a medical check for other conditions. If doctors suspect that your child has an arrhythmia, they will do some tests or schedule an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist.
Typically, medical professionals will use an electrocardiogram (ECG) test to measure the electrical activity in the heart. During the test, the child will either lie down or do some light exercise. The machine will pick up any arrhythmia.
Your doctor may also use a halter monitor, a small device your child wears over a 24 to 48-hour period to check the rhythm of their heart as they go about their daily activities.
How Is Pediatric Arrhythmia Treated
In many cases, your child will not require any treatment. However, your doctor may recommend monitoring their heart to ensure that the arrhythmia isn’t worsening.
If your child requires treatment, the options will depend on the age of your child, their current medical condition, and the severity of the arrhythmia. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
Medicines like beta-blockers can be prescribed to help manage the symptoms.
There are several procedures that your doctor may recommend, depending on the cause and severity of the arrhythmia. For example, a pacemaker can be placed under the skin to help regulate the heartbeat, or a radiofrequency ablation can use a special catheter to remove the tissue caused by the irregular electrical signals in the heart.
All treatment methods aim to regulate the heartbeat so your child can live a full and active life.
If you are worried that your child might have a pediatric arrhythmia, please get in touch with us today to arrange a checkup with one of our board-certified pediatricians.