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The heart is a muscle that pumps oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. When you have heart failure, the heart is not able to pump as well as it should. Blood and fluid may back up into the lungs (congestive heart failure), and some parts of the body don’t get enough oxygen-rich blood to work normally. These problems lead to the symptoms of heart failure.
The most common cause of heart failure in children is a heart defect that is present at birth (congenital). Other causes include:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
How severe the symptoms are depends on how much of the heart's pumping ability is affected.
The symptoms of heart failure can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. The provider will look for signs and symptoms that may mean heart failure. If the provider thinks your child has heart failure, your child may need to see a pediatric cardiologist. This is a doctor with special training to diagnose and treat heart problems in children. Tests for heart failure may include:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
If heart failure is caused by a congenital heart defect, correcting the defect may cure heart failure. Medicines are often used to treat heart failure in children. They may include:
Other treatments include:
Heart failure can cause many complications. These include:
How well your child lives with heart failure depends on many things, including his or her age. It also depends on how severe the symptoms are and what the treatment is. Your child’s healthcare provider will check him or her often. Some pediatric heart centers have special programs for heart failure. Your child may need:
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child's symptoms get worse. These include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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