As February is American Heart Month, we wanted to cover an important topic and that is recognizing heart problems in children. Approximately one in every 100 children has a health problem, which may also be referred to as a heart defect or congenital heart disease. Many children with heart defects appear healthy and may not display any symptoms. If children are displaying any of the symptoms, they will usually develop within the first few weeks after they are born.  

Keep reading to learn how you can recognize a potential heart problem in a child. 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Heart Defects 

Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms which may indicate a heart problem: 

  • Difficulty feeding (becoming sweaty during feeds) 
  • Blue color around lips and blue skin (cyanosis) 
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain 
  • Passing out 
  • Poor growth 
  • Pale skin 
  • Fatigue or dizziness with exercise 
  • Palpitations (heart skipping a beat or beating abnormally) 

If your child has any of these symptoms, it is vital that you tell your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor about them. They will perform a full medical evaluation and then decide whether a referral to a pediatric cardiologist is needed. Most tests for heart problems in children are simple, quick and not painful. Some of those tests include: 

  • Chest X-ray – A simple x-ray of the chest. 
  • ECG (electrocardiogram) - Wires are attached with electrodes (small, plastic patches that stick to the skin) to the chest, arms and legs. The wires record the electrical activity of the heart. Your child will not feel anything other than the plastic patches being placed on them initially. 
  • Ultrasound Scan (echocardiogram) – A handheld scanner is placed on the chest and stomach and produces a picture of the heart on a monitor. 

Many children with heart defects live a normal and full life. There are several ways heart defects can be treated, depending on the cause of the problem. Some possible treatment options include medicine, surgery, or other medical procedures. 

We Care for Medically Fragile Patients 

We understand how caring for our children, if they become ill, can be frightening, especially when medical equipment is needed. At Life Tech, our Respiratory Therapists specialize in caring for infant and pediatric patients and work closely with our patients’ families to meet the specialized needs for each home. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about what we do, get in touch with us today.