Heart failure in infants: signs, causes and treatment

Heart failure in infants is uncommon but can occur. One potential cause is congenital heart defects (CHDs). These are problems with the structure of the heart that are present from birth. CHDs affect 8 out of every 1,000 live births, but only 20% of these children will have heart failure.

This information comes from a 2016 study🇧🇷

Another cause of heart failure in this age group is cardiomyopathy, a condition that affects the heart muscle and makes it difficult to pump blood to the body. It affects around 8 out of every 100,000 babies annually.

Symptoms of heart failure include eating problems, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing.

This article discusses the incidence, outlook, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of heart failure in infants. It also offers recommendations for growing up with heart failure and tips for parents and caregivers.

The term “heart failure” does not mean that the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the organ is not working as well as it should. Occurs when the heart you can not fills with enough blood or is too weak to pump properly.

Normally, a person’s heart receives oxygen-poor blood and sends it to the lungs for oxygenation. The oxygenated blood then flows back to the heart, which pumps it to meet the body’s needs.

In heart failure, an abnormality in structure or function leads to failure to supply oxygen to the body at the required rate. Another name for the condition is “congestive heart failure”.

Very few babies develop heart failure. One of the main causes is CHD, which are changes in the structure of the heart that are present from birth. CHDs occur in 8 out of 1,000 births🇧🇷 Heart failure occurs in approximately 20% of these cases, which would be around 1.6 in every 1,000 births.

Heart failure in babies can also occur for other reasons. One of them is cardiomyopathy, which has an annual incidence rate of approximately 8 per 100,000 in infants less than 1 year of age.

Statistics on survival rates for heart failure in infants vary depending on the cause. Some causes of these events are more serious and difficult to treat than others.

The most serious cause is critical CHDs. Babies with this type of heart problem need surgery or corrective procedures within 1 year of their lives.

An older study from 2013 reports that while the outlook for CCHDs has improved in recent decades, the death rate remains high in infants.

The 1-year survival rate during 1994-2005 was 82.5%. This means that more than 80% of children survived for more than 1 year of life.

However, there is a more negative outlook for infants with heart failure due to cardiomyopathy. About 50% those with dilated cardiomyopathy are at risk of death or need a heart transplant within the first 5 years.

Some potential signs of heart problems in babies include:

  • feeding problems
  • Respiratory problem
  • excessive sweat
  • growth problems
  • low blood pressure

Additional signs can include:

  • a rapid heart rate that exceeds 150 beats per minute
  • a rapid breathing rate that exceeds 50 breaths per minute
  • liver enlargement
  • heart rhythm that resembles the sound of a gallop

There is two main causes of heart failure: overcirculation failure and pumping failure.

Causes of overcirculation failure

Hypercirculation occurs when there is an overload of blood in the heart chambers. Several conditions can cause this.

One cause is a mixture of oxygen-poor blood and oxygen-rich blood. For example, a hole between the right and left heart chambers can allow oxygen-rich blood in the left chambers to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right chambers. Mixing of these two blood types can also occur outside this organ.

Another cause of heart failure due to hypercirculation is anemia. It can also result from a faulty heart valve that doesn’t close properly, which allows blood to leak backwards.

Pump failure causes

Pump failure means that the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The cause can be congenital or something a child picks up after birth.

For example, a congenital disorder of the heart arteries can prevent blood flow to the heart muscle from birth. An acquired cause of pump failure could be a viral infection that a child later contracts, damaging healthy heart muscle. Both types weaken the heart’s ability to pump blood.

A doctor can base a preliminary diagnosis of heart failure on the symptoms. They may also order chest X-rays to look for an enlarged heart.

If heart failure is suspected, the doctor may refer the child to a pediatric or congenital cardiologist, who may order additional tests.

This may include an electrocardiogram to assess heart rhythm and an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart that assesses the function and structure of the heart.

Treatment of heart failure in infants depends on the cause.

hypercirculation treatment

Initially, treatment for hypercirculation may involve the use of medications, such as diuretics, which reduce excessive blood volume and lower blood pressure.

However, if CHDs are the cause of the hypercirculation, surgery is often necessary to prevent too much blood from entering the heart.

Since hypercirculation can lead to growth problems, treatment may also include nutritional supplements and dietary changes, such as decreasing salt intake.

Pump failure handling

If pump failure is the cause of heart failure in a child, a doctor can recommend:

  • diuretics and other medications to lower blood pressure and help the heart pump better
  • a pacemaker to correct a slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat
  • medications to slow a fast heartbeat
  • radiofrequency ablation, which involves delivering short bursts of radio waves to part of the heart muscle, causing a rapid heartbeat
  • surgery, such as replacing a damaged heart valve

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no cure for many children with CHD. This means that many grow up with heart failure. To ensure children remain as healthy as possible while living with this condition, the CDC recommends:

  • Keep health records up to date: Parents and caregivers can facilitate doctor appointments by keeping organized records of their child’s condition, including the type of heart condition they have, previous treatments they have undergone, and medications they are taking.
  • Visiting the doctor regularly: As the child grows, other heart problems may develop that require additional medications and surgery. For example, a child may be at increased risk for atypical heart rhythms, high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, or infective endocarditis. Therefore, frequent examinations and examinations are important to treat complications early.
  • Getting nutritional and dietary advice: Children with CHD may be smaller and thinner than their peers. A doctor’s dietary recommendations can help encourage weight gain and ensure adequate nutritional intake.
  • Getting exercise advice: Exercising regularly is important for children to stay healthy, but those with heart failure may need special guidance about which activities are safe. Parents and caregivers should seek professional advice on this from their doctor.

In addition to looking after their physical health, it is also important for people to be aware of how having a serious heart condition can affect children mentally. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can all play an important role in promoting healthy self-esteem, helping children manage their emotions, and staying in touch with friends.

Heart failure in infants can derive from heart defects and cardiomyopathy. Signs can include rapid heartbeat and breathing, along with a galloping heart rate and an enlarged heart. Treatment depends on the cause, but can involve options such as surgery, medication to control blood pressure, and a pacemaker.

Heart failure is not common in children, but it is serious. It is important for babies with this condition to receive regular medical attention throughout their childhood to ensure they remain as healthy as possible. Parents and caregivers can benefit from advice on nutrition, exercise and developmental support for their children as they grow.

Heart failure in infants: signs, causes and treatment

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