Living4 possible causes of heart failure in children

4 possible causes of heart failure in children

 

Heart attack or heart failure are a great cause for concern in today’s society. The incidence of heart problems in adults is high for various reasons related to birth and acquired. However, not only adults can suffer from these problems, but also children and adolescents .

What is a heart attack or heart failure?

When the blood supply to part of the heart is restricted , a heart attack occurs. This indicates that the tissues there are not getting enough oxygen to live, so the heart tissues can be damaged and possibly die if the heart attack is not treated right away. Myocardial infarction (MI) is the medical term for a heart attack. On the other hand, when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body’s organs and tissues, you have heart failure .

A total or partial obstruction of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that nourish the heart) causes a heart attack. Diseases that damage the heart or make it work harder to pump blood are the most common causes of heart failure, although certain diseases in children can also cause heart failure .

How does the heart work?

The heart is a powerful muscle that pumps blood throughout the body . In order for it to do so properly, it needs its four chambers (two atria and two ventricles) to be in perfect condition.

The main function of the heart is to circulate oxygen-rich blood (commonly represented as red blood) throughout the body. After the various organs have been nourished with oxygen, the poorly oxygenated blood (commonly represented as blue blood) returns to the right atrium of the heart. From there, it pumps the blood to the lungs, so that they oxygenate the blood again, so that, once it returns to the heart, the cycle begins again towards the rest of the body.

Causes

The most common cause of heart attack or heart failure in children is due to congenital heart disease , that is, a heart defect present at birth. Still, there are other reasons, such as cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) or heart muscle hypertrophy (enlargement), valvular heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, or infections.

congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease is present at birth and can damage the structure and function of the baby’s heart. They can affect the way blood moves through the heart and out of the body.

Congenital heart disease can range from mild (like a small opening in the heart) to severe (like a heart attack). Severe affects one in four newborns with a heart defect , also known as a critical congenital heart defect. During the first year of life, babies with severe congenital heart disease need surgery or other intervention to prevent heart failure or myocardial infarction.

coarctation of the aorta

A birth defect in which a section of the aorta , the tube that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body, is narrower than normal . If the narrowing is severe enough and goes undiagnosed, the baby may have serious complications and require surgical or other intervention soon after delivery.

The coarctation, or narrowing, prevents adequate blood flow to the body . This can cause a blockage of blood flow, forcing the muscles in the ventricles to work harder to push blood out. The extra work of the heart can cause the heart’s walls to thicken to pump more efficiently. As a result , the heart muscle progressively weakens , so that the heart can deteriorate to the point of heart failure , if the aorta is not expanded.

pediatric atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the narrowing and hardening of the arteries caused by the accumulation of fat and cholesterol , which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and myocardial infarction. Atherosclerosis can be diagnosed in the young just as it is in adults.

When the arteries narrow, they lose their effectiveness in carrying blood throughout the body , resulting in less blood reaching the tissues. Children with atherosclerosis are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, excess cholesterol, and stroke. The disease is not usually discovered until adolescence (12-17 years). Most arterial problems in children are minor and can be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle .

Pompe disease

Pompe disease is a rare disease with a wide range of rates of progression and ages of onset. The first signs can appear at any age , from birth to late adulthood. Skeletal muscle weakness characterizes the disease, which causes mobility problems and affects the respiratory system in people of all ages. The most affected babies usually appear in the first three months of life. They have typical heart difficulties or heart failure (dysfunction due to enlargement of the heart), as well as generalized skeletal muscle weakness and, if untreated, a life expectancy of less than two years.

Patients with the “classic infantile” type of Pompe disease are most affected. Although there may be few symptoms at birth, the disease usually manifests during the first three months of life with rapidly progressive muscle weakness (“limp babies”), reduced muscle tone (hypotonia), and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy , a type of heart disease characterized due to abnormal thickening of the walls of the heart (mainly the left chamber and the wall between the left and right chambers), which causes a decrease in cardiac function.

References:

Heart Failure in Children (s.f.) Stanford Children’s Health. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=heart-failure-in-children-90-P01775

Información sobre la coartación de la aorta (2020). CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spanish/heartdefects/coarctationofaorta.html

Pompe Disease (s.f.). NORD: National Organization for Rare Disorders. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/pompe-disease/

Upklyak(s.f.). Human body organs cartoon characters isolated set [Free Vector]. Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/upklyak

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