Types of Heart Diseases in Children

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Types of Heart Diseases in Children

Although we often associate cardiac problems with adults, heart diseases in children are not uncommon. There are different types of heart problems that can affect children, including congenital (since birth) heart defects, infections in the heart, and some heart diseases that are acquired later during childhood due to an illness or genetic disease. Some types of heart diseases that can affect children are: 

Congenital heart disease

A birth defect or congenital heart disease (CHD) is a type of heart problems that children are born with. These are typically caused by structural defects in the heart that are present at birth. 

CHDs that affect children include:

Defects of the heart valve such as a narrowing of the aortic valve (aortic stenosis), restricting the flow of blood 

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome: the left side of the heart remains underdeveloped at the time of birth 

Holes or opening in the heart, usually in the septal walls between the heart chambers or in the major blood vessels leaving the heart. These defects including:

  • Ventricular septal defects (VSD)
  • Atrial septal defects (ASD)
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot – a combination of four defects, namely – an opening in the ventricular septum, thickened right side of the heart, narrowing of the passage between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery, and a displaced aorta.

Other CHDs include: 

  • Coarctation of the aorta (COA)
  • Ebstein anomaly
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)
  • Truncus arteriosus

Sometimes, a hole in the heart is not big enough to cause any symptoms and it may close on its own. In other cases, congenital heart defects may be large and can have long-term effects on a child’s health. The usual treatment options include surgery, catheter-based procedures and medications. In severe cases, heart transplants may also be considered.

Medanta Hospital Gurgaon is one of India’s premier hospitals, especially for cardiology care. The hospital has a dedicated pediatric cardiology unit, equipped with the latest diagnostic and medical technology for patient care. The team of pediatric cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at the hospital offer all kinds of treatment with surgery (minimally invasive as well as open, catheter treatment and medication. 


This is a condition in which the fat and cholesterol-filled plaques build up inside the blood vessels, arteries. The arteries narrow and stiffens as the buildup increases, which also increases the risk of developing blood clots and heart attacks. 

Although it is unusual for children to suffer from this, health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension put them at higher risk. 


This term refers to the abnormal rhythm of the heart. Because of arrhythmias, the heart may not function properly and pump less efficiently.

Children can have different types of arrhythmias, such as:

  • Tachycardia – a fast heart rate. Supraventricular tachycardia is the most common type of arrhythmia in children 
  • Bradycardia – this means a slow heart rate 
  • Long Q-T Syndrome (LQTS)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW syndrome)

These conditions are characterized by symptoms in children such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and difficulty feeding. 

The mode of treatment depends on the type of arrhythmia the child has and how it’s affecting their health.

Kawasaki disease

This is a rare disease which primarily occurs in children. Kawasaki disease causes inflammation in the blood vessels of hands, lips, feet, mouth, and throat. It also includes symptoms such as fever and swelling in the lymph nodes. 


This is the inflammation or infection of the thin sac or membrane that surrounds the heart called the pericardium. It leads to an increase in the amount of fluid between the two layers, affecting the heart’s functions and ability to pump blood efficiently.

Pericarditis is often associated with surgery to repair a CHD, or it may result from a bacterial infection, chest trauma, or disorders of connective tissue such as lupus. 

Rheumatic heart disease

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition associated with an untreated streptococcus bacterial infection that causes strep throat and scarlet fever.

The disease may permanently damage the heart valves as well as the heart muscle due to the heart muscle inflammation. It can be prevented by timely treatment of strep throat with antibiotics.


Certain viral and bacterial infections can affect heart health. Viral infections cause inflammation of the heart muscles, called myocarditis. This impacts the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body.

Viral infections affecting the heart are uncommon and show fewer symptoms. The symptoms are similar to flu, including fatigue, breathlessness, and discomfort in the chest. The treatment for myocarditis includes medications and management of the symptoms of the condition.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

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