Arrhythmias in Children

Arrhythmias in Children

What is it?

Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) are caused by irregular electrical impulses that create a disturbance in heart contractions, leading to inefficient pumping of blood to the body. Although there are several types of arrhythmias, these may be classified into four main categories:

  • Ventricular arrhythmias, which begin in the heart's lower chambers (ventricles)
  • Supraventricular arrhythmias, which begin above the ventricles, in the atria, or in the atrioventricular node
  • Bradyarrhythmias, which are slow heart rhythms caused by the slow generation of electrical impulses or the blocking of impulse propagation
  • Tachycardias, which are rapid heart rhythms that exceed normal resting heart rate

Children may be born with cardiac arrhythmias (congenital disorders) caused by a birth defect of the heart or they may acquire this condition even with normal formation of the heart. The two most common heart rhythm disorders in children include:

  • Long Q-T syndrome, in which the heart takes longer than normal to contract. This is caused by a delay in electrical activation or inactivation of the ventricles, often identified by a prolonged "Q-T" interval in an electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, in which the electrical signal to the ventricles arrives sooner than normal. This is caused by an abnormal conduction pathway between the atria and ventricles and can often be treated through catheter ablation

It is important for children with a diagnosed arrhythmia, a family history of rhythm disorders or sudden cardiac death, or who demonstrate symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia to be evaluated by pediatric electrophysiologist. Symptoms of heart arrythmia might include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting (syncope), low tolerance to exercise, or fatigue.

There are a variety of treatment options for patients with arrhythmias, including medical management, pacemaker implantation, catheter ablation, or cardiac surgery.

The Loyola difference

Loyola has a team of electrophysiologists who specialize in the treatment of children with heart rhythm disorders. As a major regional and national referral center for the treatment of complex arrhythmias, our multidisciplinary team of specialists provide an integrated approach to the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of rhythm disturbances and their associated underlying conditions in both adults and children.

Learn more about our performance outcomes.

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