The title could be shocking to someone of you. A widespread thought is that heart disease is the problem of adults. So, parents of young children don’t even think about this. But, according to the U.S. CDC, obesity is affecting one out of every six children in their country. As most of you might be aware, obesity in combination with a sedentary lifestyle could lead to poor arterial health. And, this is the most common first sign of heart disease or what we call it as “cardiovascular problem”. Now, let’s see more about this issue here…
Heart Disease in Children and Types:
Heart disease, when strikes an adult, it is hard enough. But, when it strikes a child, it could be tragic. The types of heart disease that could affect the children are as follows:
Congenital Heart Disease:
This is the type of heart disease with which the child is born with. This is usually caused by the heart defects at the childbirth. The congenital heart diseases that are found to be affecting children would include heart valve disorders, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, ventricular/atrial septal defects, patent ductus arteriosus, tetralogy of Fallot, and so on. In simple terms, these are the disorders involving holes in the child’s heart, mostly in the walls between the heart chambers or between the blood vessels. The “tetralogy of Fallot” is a combination of four defects.
It’s important for us to understand that the above-mentioned congenital heart diseases can have long-term effects on the health of the affected child. The treatment for these could include any or more of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Catheters
  • Medications
  • Heart transplants

This is the heart disease, which is caused due to the fat buildup inside the arteries. As the density of the fat buildup increases, the arteries would become narrow and stiff, thereby, increasing the risks of blood clots and heart attack. In general, this would take several years to develop and is uncommon for a child to be affected. However, the existing health issues like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes would put the child at risk of contracting atherosclerosis. In general, the treatment for atherosclerosis would involve lifestyle alterations like physical exercises and diet modifications.
This condition represents the abnormal rhythms of the heart. Thus, this could make the heart to pump less effectively than normal. There are more than one ways by which the child could be affected by arrhythmia. The common types of arrhythmias that are found in children are:

  • Tachycardia – faster heart rate
  • Bradycardia – slower heart rate
  • Long Q-T Syndrome
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

The child affected with arrhythmia would show the symptoms of weakness, dizziness, fatigue, fainting, and difficulty eating. The treatments for this would depend upon the type of arrhythmia and how the child has been affected by it.
Kawasaki disease:
This is a rare type of childhood heart disease that can cause inflammation in the blood vessels of various parts of the body. The affected child would get fever and swelling of the lymph nodes. Till date, the cause of this disease remains unknown. It’s to be noted that the Kawasaki disease is one of the major causes of heart disorders in children below five years of age. Generally, the treatment for this disease would depend on the extent of the disease, although intravenous administrations and corticosteroids are common.
Heart murmurs:
This is a whooshing sound made by the blood circulating via the chambers and valves of the heart or via the blood vessels near to the heart. Although this is often harmless, sometimes it could signify an underlying cardiovascular disease. Remember, the heart murmurs can also be due to the congenital heart diseases.
This is the condition that occurs due to the inflammation or infection of the sac or membrane that surrounds the heart. An increase in the amount of fluid between the two layers would impair the heart’s ability to pump blood. This condition may happen after a surgery or due to other things like bacterial infection, chest trauma, connective tissue disorder, and so on.
Rheumatic heart disease:
The streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat and scarlet fever can also cause rheumatic heart disease if left untreated. The condition could severely, as well as permanently damage the child’s heart valves and muscles, thereby, leading to heart muscle inflammation. This condition is medically called as myocarditis. According to a report, this condition is found to be common in the children of ages 5 to 15 years. However, the symptoms don’t usually show up for one or two decades after the onset. This heart disease can be effectively prevented by treating the strep throat as early as possible.
Prevention of Childhood Heart Disease:
Some of the causes of heart disease that begin in childhood can be prevented. The risk factors in childhood that have a direct association with the likeliness of contracting heart disease later in life include the following:

  • Obesity
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Buildup of plaque or fat deposits in the arteries
  • Unhealthy changes in the cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes

Yes, it’s true that the risk of heart disease runs in families. However, a healthy diet could help prevent or at least reduce the risk of heart disease in children. Therefore, if heart diseases appear to be running in your family, we would advise you to consult with your healthcare provider and have the child’s cholesterol and blood pressures measures regularly. In addition, watch your child’s weight regularly.
As mentioned earlier, a balanced diet is important for your children to prevent heart disease. This would also encourage your children to grow healthy. The diet that could help prevent heart diseases in children would include two important things. Firstly, the daily calories should be kept at the right levels. It’s because too many calories could cause weight gain and thus, could be hard on the heart. Secondly, the fats should be limited, especially the saturated fats.
Well, now you understood that our children are not devoid of the risk of contracting heart diseases. Therefore, be sure to keep watching your children on the symptoms and immediately take them to childcare specialists if something is wrong!

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