Heart diseases in youngsters, also known as pediatric heart diseases or congenital heart diseases, are conditions that affect the structure or function of the heart and blood vessels in children and adolescents. These conditions can be present from birth (congenital) or can develop later in childhood due to various factors. Here are some key points to consider:
- Congenital Heart Diseases (CHD): These are heart defects that are present at birth and may involve structural abnormalities in the heart or its major blood vessels. Some common examples include atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), tetralogy of Fallot, and coarctation of the aorta. The severity of CHD can range from mild to life-threatening.
- Acquired Heart Diseases: Some heart diseases can develop during childhood or adolescence due to factors like infections (e.g., rheumatic fever), autoimmune disorders, or other medical conditions. These acquired heart diseases may affect the heart valves, heart muscle, or the lining of the heart.
- Risk Factors: While congenital heart diseases are often present from birth and have a genetic component, acquired heart diseases in youngsters can be influenced by factors such as a family history of heart disease, certain medical conditions, exposure to environmental toxins, and lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity.
- Symptoms: The symptoms of heart diseases in youngsters can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the condition. Common symptoms may include difficulty breathing, poor growth or weight gain, fatigue, cyanosis (bluish skin or lips), chest pain, and fainting. In some cases, symptoms may not be evident until later in childhood or adolescence.
- Diagnosis: Pediatric cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart diseases in children and adolescents. Diagnostic tools may include echocardiography, electrocardiography (ECG), cardiac catheterization, and imaging studies like MRI and CT scans.