Understanding Arrhythmias in Children
What is an Arrhythmia?
A child's normal heartbeat changes with age. However, when a child’s heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly, it’s called an arrhythmia. An arrhythmia could indicate that there is a problem with the body’s electrical signals that tell the heart muscle when and how to beat.
Why do Arrhythmias Occur?
Arrhythmias can occur in children before birth, but most develop after birth. They can occur in infants, young children, or teenagers. There are many causes of arrhythmias, including imbalances of electrolytes in the blood, certain medications, abnormal electrical pathways in the heart muscle, congenital heart defects, a heart muscle disease called cardiomyopathy, or genetic heart cell problems that can occur in families (such as Long QT Syndrome). Arrhythmias may also occur following heart surgery.
When to See a Pediatric Cardiologist
Arrhythmias can be harmless -- or they can cause dizziness, fainting, or even sudden cardiac death. If your child has an abnormal heartbeat, it’s important to have it checked by a pediatric cardiologist. Your child may be seen by a pediatric electrophysiologist, who specializes in heart rhythm disorders in children.