Similar to adults, children may also complain of irregular heartbeats. There are several routine day to day activities that can result in an increase or decrease in the regular heartbeat pattern. Activities like playing, crying, shouting, etc. tend to increase heart rate while relaxing and sleeping are associated with lowering of heart rate. Effective management of irregular heartbeats is crucial to prevent life threatening complications.
The normal heart rate in children may vary from 70 to 110 beats per minute. The rate of heartbeats is higher at 130 to 150 beats per minute in newborns and then gradually decreases as age increases.
Causes Of Irregular Heartbeats In Children
Irregular heartbeats are also clinically referred to as arrhythmia. Under normal conditions, the heart beats in a synchronized pattern at a regular heart rate, which allows pumping of adequate amount of blood as per the body’s requirement.
However in certain conditions, the heartbeats may either not be synchronized or may be associated with sudden increase or decrease in the normal rates. Some of the common conditions that are responsible for irregular heartbeat in children include,
- Congenital anomalies which include defect in the atrial or ventricular septum are common causes of irregular heartbeat in children. Valvular stenoses are other congenital factors that may result in irregular heartbeat in children.
- Juvenile diabetes (often referred to as type I diabetes) is also associated with tachycardia. Abnormal hormone levels especially in children with congenital thyroid or pituitary disorders may result in elevated and irregular heartbeats.
- Stress and anxiety associated with behavioral disorders can also result in irregular heart beat among children.
- Fever, respiratory tract infections, anemia, etc are some of the other causes that are closely linked with irregular and elevated heart rates.
Arrhythmia Symptoms In Children
Irregular heartbeat in children is often associated with either increase or drop in the normal heart rate. Often irregular heartbeats may be associated with murmurs or asynchronous patterns which may be observed on the electrocardiogram. Some of the common symptoms associated with irregular heartbeat in children include,
- Palpitations with murmur sound from the chest region.
- Often children may complain of lightheadedness along with dizziness and fainting.
- Generalized paleness or cyanosis may be observed in some children with anemia.
- Excessive sweating with tendency to skip heart beats may also be observed.
- Shortness of breath, grasping for air, etc may also be observed in children.
- Generalized weakness and lack of interest may also be observed in children with irregular heartbeats.
Treatment For Irregular Heart Rate
In order to select an appropriate path from the clinical management of irregular heartbeats, correct and early diagnosis is crucial. Diagnosis can be made based on electrocardiogram reports or conducting a simple X ray chest exam. Often, the physician may request for a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis, especially in cases of congenital anomalies.
Treatment regimen depends upon the cause of the irregular heartbeat. Surgical intervention is unavoidable in cases associated with congenital anomalies. Limiting the child’s physical activity and ensuring a healthy and nutritious diet can also help in efficient management of irregular heartbeats, which are associated with nutritional disorders.