Question: What are the causes of heart rhythm problems in children?
Answer :Well heart rhythm problems in children, we breakup into two different groups. One is heart rhythms that cause the heart rate to beat too slow and the others are those that cause the heart rate to beat too fast. It's rare to have a heart rate that's too slow. If it is too slow sometimes the children actually present in utero or prenatally with a slow heart rate and if it's exceedingly slow they may require a pacemaker to be placed early on in life.
By far the majority of the heart rhythm problems that we deal with in children are those that cause the heart rate to beat too fast. One in particular is called supraventricular tachycardia or SVT. And if your child has SVT they may complain of palpitations, lightheadedness, dizziness or shortness of breath. It's very rare for children with supraventricular tachycardia or SVT to have fainting episodes. So if you do have a child, if your child is having problems with any of those symptoms it's really important for you to talk to your pediatrician and be referred to a pediatric cardiologist for further evaluation.
SVT or supraventricular tachycardia is normally caused from an extra electrical conduction wire in the heart, so there's a normal cable and then there's an extra electrical cable in the heart and this sets up a reentrance circuit where the heart beats far too fast and the child will have symptoms of palpitations. Most children who have these symptoms can be controlled with medications, but your child may also be a candidate for a catheter ablation procedure.
It's very rare for children to have problems with life threatening arrhythmias. When these occur there's usually a family history. So it's very important if there's a family member that you know of whose had early sudden death, seizures or fainting episodes that you contact your doctor to see if other members of the family should been screened.