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Symptoms Of Heart Attack In Kids; Can Children Get Heart Attacks? How To Prevent It?

There has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of coronary heart disease in India over the last several decades, with rates ranging between 1.6% and 7.4% for rural and 1% to 13.2% for urban populations.

Heart disease and heart attacks can all be exacerbated by poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. The risk of a heart attack in young Indians can also be increased by stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes [1].

How about children? Can they suffer from heart attacks?

Heart Attack In Kids: What Parents Should Know

Childhood heart attacks, also known as acute myocardial infarctions, are rare, but not impossible.

Causes Of Heart Attack In Children

Although heart attacks in children are rare, they can be caused by several factors, including:

1. Chest trauma

A blunt chest injury, such as one sustained in an accident or from an injury, is also regarded as a rare cause of a heart attack in a child [2].

2. Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease, also known as congenital heart defects, refers to a variety of birth-related heart conditions. Approximately 1% of all live births are affected by congenital heart defects. Children with certain congenital heart defects are more likely to suffer a heart attack as a result of coronary artery blockages than others [3].

Anomalous origin of the left coronary artery: An example of congenital heart disease is the anomalous origin of the left coronary artery. The left coronary artery connects to the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta during the formation of the heart.

3. Acquired heart disease

Children may develop rheumatic heart disease, Kawasaki disease, myocarditis, and pericarditis after birth, increasing their risk of heart attacks at an early age.

Symptoms Of Heart Attack In Children

In order to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment of children who may be experiencing a heart attack or symptoms of another condition, it is important to look out for possible signs.

In contrast to adults, chest pain rarely indicates a heart attack in children. If your child displays the following symptoms, please seek medical assistance as soon as possible [4].

Symptoms of a heart attack in infants:

  • Problems with feeding [5]
  • Lack of interest in surroundings
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Skin paleness
  • Tachyphenea (rapid breathing)
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

Symptoms of a heart attack in older children:

  • An absence of appetite [6]
  • Paleness
  • Dyspnea
  • Tachypnea
  • Tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats a minute)
  • Hypotension
  • Weak pulse
  • Rhythm irregularity

How To Treat Heart Attack In Children?

Due to the rarity of heart attacks in children, and the variety of causes, doctors have adapted adult treatment techniques for the treatment of children [7]. Alteplase is now the most commonly used fibrinolytic drug in children.

In addition, the following treatments may also be considered:

  • Supportive care hospitalisation
  • If there are any clots present, anticoagulant medications will be prescribed
  • Beta-blockers

How To Avoid Risk Of Heart Attacks In Kids?

Here are some tips for kids to prevent heart attacks later in life [8]:

  • Overweight children tend to have high blood pressure. Encourage your child to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Exercise more frequently.
  • Salt consumption should be limited on a daily basis.

What Else Causes Chest Pain In Children?

Chest pain may also be caused by the following factors:

  • An infection of the lungs can cause irritation around the lungs that can be quite painful, especially when breathing. This is called pleurisy.
  • It is not uncommon for children to describe their breathing difficulties caused by asthma as chest pains.
  • When stomach acid refluxes up into the oesophagus, it can burn and feel painful. This condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or heartburn.
  • It is common for children to describe emotional responses to stress and anxiety as chest pain. Other children may complain of discomfort to gain attention. Your paediatrician may determine that this is the cause of your child's chest pain through an elimination process [9][10].
  • Rarely, a child may experience chest pain as a result of a heart problem.

On A Final Note...

It is rare for children to experience a heart attack, although there have been some cases. There are various causes for congenital and acquired heart diseases. If you notice any warning signs or symptoms that the child is experiencing, it is always a good idea to seek medical treatment.

Story first published: Saturday, January 21, 2023, 15:14 [IST]
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