Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart is not pumping blood through the body as effectively as it should. This condition is also called congestive heart failure. People of all ages can have heart failure, including infants, children and teenagers. In children, heart failure is usually caused by a heart problem the child is born with.
Heart failure can affect either side of a child’s heart. When it occurs on the left side of the heart, the heart has difficulty pumping blood to the body, and blood then backs up into the vessels and lungs. When it affects the right side of the heart, the heart has difficulty pumping blood to the lungs causing blood to back up in the liver and veins. In some cases, heart failure can affect both sides of the heart.
The symptoms of heart failure can vary greatly from one child to another. It is important to talk to your medical care team about your child’s specific symptoms. Common symptoms in children may include:
Heart failure in children is most commonly caused by a congenital heart defect the child is born with. Children can also develop this condition as a result of infection or another medical condition such as cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), heart valve disease, anemia or high blood pressure.
Your child’s treatment for heart failure will depend on their age and how severe their condition is. Your care team at Arkansas Children’s is experienced in treating heart failure and will work with you to come up with the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options may include: