An arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. In an arrhythmia, abnormal electrical signals through the heart muscle may cause the heart to beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly. When the heart doesn't beat normally, it isn't able to pump blood to the body as well. That means the brain, lungs, and other organs may not get enough blood. And the organs can't work as well and may become damaged.
Arrhythmias in children include:
The cause of an arrhythmia may be unknown. Some known causes in children include:
A child with an arrhythmia may not have any symptoms. For those who do, these are the most common symptoms:
The symptoms of an arrhythmia may look like other health conditions or heart problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and family history. He or she look for signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia. The provider will give your child an exam focusing on the heart. Your child may need to see a pediatric cardiologist. This is a doctor with special training to treat children with heart problems. Your child may need tests, including:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Some children don't need treatment. If your child needs treatment, he or she will likely be cared for by a pediatric cardiologist. Treatment may include:
Complications can happen, depending on the type of arrhythmia and how serious it is. Complications may include:
Some arrhythmias do not cause any problems. Some are more serious. A child with a serious arrhythmia will need frequent checkups.
Talk with your child's healthcare provider about managing your child's arrhythmia. Your child may need regular tests. Or your child may not be able to take part in some sports or activities.
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child has symptoms of an arrhythmia. These include: