Childhood Heart Conditions

Common heart conditions that can lead to pediatric heart failure include:

  • Congestive heart failure
    Normally, the heart is very strong and can pump oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. When the heart becomes weak and cannot pump enough blood to the body, fluid can back up into the lungs, liver and legs.
  • Cardiomyopathy
    Some children are born with healthy hearts that become weak for reasons we do not always understand. Sometimes the heart becomes weak in babies and sometimes much later in life. This problem is called cardiomyopathy, or a weak and enlarged heart muscle. There is no surgical treatment for cardiomyopathy. A pediatric heart transplant may be needed if medicines do not improve the heart’s function.
  • Congenital heart disease
    Some children are born with heart disease that weakens their heart. There are many types of congenital (present at birth) heart disease. The heart transplant team will discuss the child’s heart condition with the family and will also discuss treatment options. Surgery may be able to repair the heart defect or reroute the blood flow so the heart can pump blood and oxygen to the body. A pediatric heart transplant may be needed if the heart muscle becomes weak in spite of medicines and surgery.

Symptoms of Pediatric Heart Failure

When the heart fails, a child may have some of these symptoms:

  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Sweating

How the Heart Works