• Children and Heart Disease


    Child with Teddy BearIf your child is born with a heart defect or acquires a heart problem during childhood, you will no doubt have many questions. As you seek answers, on this website, from your doctor, and from other sources, keep in mind that new therapies and technologies sized especially for children continue to improve the outcomes for children born with a congenital heart defect or who acquire a heart condition as they are growing up. In fact, some 90 percent of children born with a heart defect survive to adulthood (see adult congenital heart disease).

    Also, know that as the parent of a child with heart disease or as an adult survivor of congenital heart disease, you are not alone. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting 1 in every 100 infants. According to the American Heart Association, from 1994 to 2004, death rates for congenital heart defects declined more than 30 percent. The chance that children born with a heart defect will be able to live a normal life is very high as well. 

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    Of course, babies cry. But Dr. James A. Kuo explains what it means for babies with congenital heart disease.

    The lists of topics below can help you begin your search for information related to children with heart disease, as well as congenital heart disease into adulthood

    Could My Child Have Heart Disease?

    • Common Childhood Heart Symptoms. Symptoms such as heart murmur, chest pain, fainting (syncope), and abnormal heart rhythms can indicate a heart condition or may be harmless. A physician can help you find out for sure. 
    • Pediatric Tests and Diagnostics. Any child who doctors suspect may have heart disease will undergo a variety of tests. Understanding how those tests work and what information they can provide can make the process less confusing for families and patients.
    • Pre-Participation Screening for Sports. Children with or without known heart disease may benefit from pre-participation screening for sports.
    • The Normal Human Heart. To understand congenital or acquired heart disease in children, it can help to first understand how a normal heart and blood circulation function.

    Life with Pediatric Heart Disease

    • Congenital Heart Disease. Specific congenital heart diseases differ in their symptoms, progression, and treatment. Visit this special section of SecondsCount for an extensive list and detailed information about congenital heart diseases.
    • Acquired Heart Disease in Children. Though acquired heart disease is more common in adults, children can also acquire specific heart diseases after birth. 
    • Pediatric Treatment and Prevention. New, innovative treatments are improving outcomes for pediatric heart patients. Treatments often combine medications and interventional or surgical procedures.
    • Diet. Babies born with congenital heart disease have special dietary considerations. And just as with adults, children with heart disease should eat a balanced, healthy diet and limit cholesterol.
    • Patients’ Stories. You truly aren’t alone. Read about other patients’ stories.

    Adults Living with Congenital Heart Disease

    • Adults with Congenital Heart Disease. Improved treatment options have led to more congenital heart disease patients surviving to adulthood. Adult congenital heart disease can present specific challenges as these patients take over their own care as they reach adulthood and make decisions about starting families of their own.