About Arrhythmias in Children
What Is an Arrhythmia?
When a child’s heart beats irregularly, too fast (tachycardia), or too slow (bradycardia), it’s called an arrhythmia. An arrhythmia could signal that a problem exists with the body’s electrical signals, which tell the heart muscle when and how to beat.
What Causes Arrhythmias?
Arrhythmias can develop in children before birth, but most begin after birth. They can occur in infants, young children, or teenagers. There are many causes of arrhythmias, including electrolyte imbalances in the blood, certain medications, abnormal electrical pathways in the heart muscle, congenital heart defects, a heart muscle disease called cardiomyopathy, or a genetic problem (such as long QT syndrome) that can occur in families. Arrhythmias may also occur following heart surgery.
A Comprehensive Approach to Advanced Care
Our team of pediatric heart experts work together to ensure your child gets the care they need. Every week, our specialists meet to discuss patients who require surgery or whose arrhythmias are complex. This means your child benefits from the expertise of the entire group.
Pediatric cardiologists usually care for children with non-life-threatening arrhythmias that can be treated with medications or other noninvasive treatments.
Pediatric electrophysiologists have completed additional training in diagnosing and treating pediatric heart rhythm disorders. They specialize in caring for more severe and life-threatening arrhythmias. Your child should see a pediatric electrophysiologist if:
- Their symptoms are brought on by or get worse with exercise.
- There is a history of a sudden and unexplained death in your family, including an infant who died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- They need a procedure like cardiac ablation.
Cardiovascular geneticists evaluate people for genetic causes of arrhythmias, including those that put people at increased risk of cardiac arrest or death. Together with experts in adult genetic heart disease, they can also counsel family members and make recommendations for relatives who could also have the condition.
Fetal cardiologists help identify and treat your baby’s heart problems during pregnancy. Fetal cardiologists ensure your child gets appropriate heart care -- including having a pacemaker implanted, if needed -- as soon as possible after delivery.