Unfortunately, heart problems may appear not only in adults – every year cases of cardiac abnormalities are progressively common in infancy and childhood. Even careful and meticulous observation during pregnancy and adherence to all guidances of the obstetrician-gynecologist does not guarantee a favorable cardiac history for the future baby – ultrasound diagnostics cannot always reveal minor deviations that will indicate the presence of problems, therefore, 100% exclude cases of congenital anomalies in the heart area impossible. And acquired problems with the cardiovascular system are not at all uncommon in modern pediatrics: frequent colds, tonsillitis, flu, and other seemingly unrelated diseases can put a serious load on the heart muscle, triggering all forms of deviations in children.
Therefore, it is highly important to determine in time how well the baby’s heart is working and, at the minimal suspicion of a violation that has arisen, seek assistance from an experienced cardiologist to exclude the likelihood of serious anomalies. What to look for when assessing the work of the child’s cardiovascular system? What signs are considered “alarm bells” that indicate a heart problem? The basics of self-diagnosis of childhood cardiac disorders will allow you to deal with these problems.
Risk factors contributing to the development of cardiac problems in infants
Heart disease can occur on its own – it does not have to be preceded by any disturbances. However, you should be wary if the following situations were noticed in the history of the mother during pregnancy and in the infant’s age:
The presence of chronic diseases in the mother
Pregnancy is a huge stress for a woman’s body, so it is not surprising that in these 9 months everything, even hidden problems, is exacerbated. Such pathologies affect not only the well-being of the expectant mother, but also the characteristics of the child’s development, and it is the cardiovascular system that suffers one of the first.
Infectious processes during pregnancy
A heavy viral load directly affects the heart of the fetus, therefore, expectant mothers should be careful during the period of seasonal morbidity and in contact with sick people, particularly in the first trimester, when the baby’s organs are being laid and formed.
Bad habits of the mother
The use of alcohol, drugs, smoking while carrying crumbs can be a “trigger” for the development of heart problems, so all negative effects should be excluded – only in this way can the likelihood of a healthy baby be born.
Heart problems in newborns associated with complications during childbirth reach 40% of the total number of cases. Moreover, it is rather hard to avoid such a turn of events: the only thing that can be done is to regularly visit a gynecologist, undergo all routine examinations, and properly prepare for the delivery process.
Poor environmental situation
Statistics show that babies living in polluted industrial areas are much more likely to experience heart disease than their peers from rural areas.
Babies from intrauterine life begin to feel stressed and nervous shocks occurring around them. If an adverse psychological situation reigns in the family, the mother during gestation, and then the newborn, experiences stress, it is not surprising that the baby will subsequently face heart ailments.
Any negative emotion, tension, and negativity impact the sensitive vessels of the baby, therefore, the primary task of parents is to exclude all irritating factors that may provoke cardiac disorders.
Signs Indicating Congenital Heart Disease
Babies who have just been born cannot yet complain of the characteristic chest pain, arrhythmia attacks, and other symptoms accompanying children’s heart pathologies. However, attentive parents and experienced pediatricians can recognize the presence of problems by the characteristic signs that will be observed in the crumbs:
Low weight gain
Many congenital anomalies of the cardiac system demonstrate themselves primarily as a delay in physical development, the most obvious factor of which is adequate weight gain. If a child with adequate nutrition in the first months of life adds less than 400 grams, looks lethargic, weakened, and emaciated, it is worthwhile to urgently visit a cardiologist – in this case, only a thorough examination will help to confirm or refute the exciting diagnosis.
Cyanosis of the skin
Poor blood supply to peripheral vessels and various vascular anomalies lead to a low supply of oxygen to the skin, due to which it acquires a pronounced violet-cyanotic hue. Cyanosis may impact the entire body, and it can manifest itself only in the most sensitive areas (nasolabial triangle, on the lips, under the nails, etc.), but in any case, having observed such a symptom, it is worth checking the state of the child’s heart.
The frequency and depth of breathing will also help to recognize cardiac problems. If the baby breathes superficially, shallowly, and often, but at the same time he does not have respiratory and colds, it is worth paying attention to the cardiovascular system – in many cases, this is how cardiac disorders manifest.
The clearest symptom that helps to understand whether the crumbs have abnormalities in the work of the heart is heart rate (heart rate). Normally, the pulse of a newborn up to 3 months varies within 100-150, by six months it decreases to 90-120 beats per minute. By measuring this indicator in dynamics, it is possible to assess how well the heart copes with the function assigned to it.
If the baby slowly sucks the breast, does not show interest in food, looks tired, and does not want to actively move (naturally, following age norms), you must think about the upcoming visit to the pediatrician. This behavior can be a characteristic feature of the child’s psychotype, or it can signal the presence of heart problems.
During the examination, each pediatrician should listen to the work of the heart and blood vessels in order to exclude the presence of noise and other pathological sounds. At the minimal suspicion of pathology, echocardiography is prescribed, which can more thoroughly determine the nature of the noise that has arisen. Organic sounds help to recognize serious malformations, and functional sounds indicate the rapid growth of the body, so they should not frighten parents.
Symptoms of diseases of the cardiovascular system in preschool and school children
Older children may already tell their parents what unpleasant sensations are bothering them, so it becomes easier to understand if the cardiovascular system is working normally. The cause for concern, in this case, may be:
Discomfort, soreness in the chest area
If a child complains that he has pain behind the sternum, feels heaviness and pressure, you should contact a cardiologist. Do not forget that the child cannot yet clearly formulate his feelings: some say that the chest is aching, others describe the pain as a burning sensation, others complain of heaviness and discomfort, and it may manifest itself both during exercise and in a state of absolute rest. Therefore, for any of the possible problems, you must be vigilant.
Often children confuse heart pain with stomach upset. If the baby complains of heartburn, bloating, nausea, and attacks that occur quite often and are not associated with a change in diet, this can serve as an indicator of cardiopathology.
Frequent attacks of dizziness
In principle, weakness and dizziness are absolutely not associated with vascular abnormalities – perhaps the child simply ate poorly or reacted too violently to the change of weather. However, frequently recurring cases, especially those that are long-lasting or accompanied by fainting, should alert attentive parents – this may indicate that the heart cannot cope with the blood supply to the body.
Pain radiating to the left arm
This symptom refers to serious and lingering heart problems, which, however, occur not only in adults but also in babies. If discomfort affects the sternum, left shoulder, and arm, you should urgently sound the alarm.
Heavy sweating is most often associated with a decrease in immunity, but if cold, sticky sweat appears for no apparent reason, you can suspect a child has heart problems.
Normally, a child must not make loud noises while sleeping. If he snores, puffs or whistles, but at the same time nasal breathing is not hard, perhaps you must pay attention to the state of his cardiovascular system, undergo additional examination, and pass tests.
Most often, the cough syndrome accompanies colds, but if the virus is defeated, and the cough does not want to go away, it is worth considering whether the lungs receive enough oxygen – this condition can be directly related to cardiac or vascular abnormalities.
The emergence of edema is more typical for adults who are accustomed to eating improperly, while in babies this sign is a clear indication of ill health. If the heart does not pump blood as intensively as the growing body needs, fluid commences stagnating in the limbs, which leads to swelling.
Usually, the amount of children’s energy can only be envied – little “energizers” are ready to jump, run, and gallop around the clock. If the baby refuses outdoor games, suffers from shortness of breath or weakness even with little physical exertion, and tries in every possible way to avoid activities that require certain effort, it is worth considering – is this a feature of his character or an alarming symptom?
Diseases related to cardiac activity occupy one of the leading positions among childhood pathologies. Therefore, it is necessary to protect the heart from infancy, carefully monitor its health and, at the slightest suspicion, visit the attending physician – such prudence can save you from more serious cardiovascular disorders!