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Heart Conditions in Children - FAQs about Heart Conditions in Children

Q:How are heart conditions in kids diagnosed?

Q:My baby has congenital heart disease. What could have caused this?

Q:My child was born with a congenital heart defect. Does that mean he should not participate in sports or other physical activities?

Q:How can I help my child emotionally adjust to living with a heart defect?

Q:My child has a pacemaker. What precautions should be taken for her safety?

Q:Should my child be seen by a physician after fainting?

Q:How is my child placed on the transplant waiting list for a new heart?

Q:After my child's heart transplant, what is done to prevent rejection of the new heart?

Q:Where can I find more information on the Internet related to cardiovascular disease and children?

Q: How are heart conditions in children diagnosed?

A:Diagnosing and evaluating heart disease in children can be complex and requires clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. <For more information on diagnosing and evaluating heart disease in children>

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Q: My baby has congenital heart disease. What could have caused this?

A:The vast majority of congenital heart defects have no known cause. Mothers will often wonder if something they did during the pregnancy caused the heart problem. In most cases, nothing can be attributed to the heart defect. Some heart problems do occur more often in families, so there may be a genetic link to some heart defects. Some heart problems are likely to occur if the mother had a disease while pregnant and was taking medications, such as anti-seizure medicines. Consult your child's pediatric cardiologist if you have questions about specific defects. However, most of the time, there is no identifiable reason as to why the heart defect occurred. <For an overview of congenital heart disease> <For more information on the factors that contribute to congenital heart disease>

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Q: My child was born with a congenital heart defect. Does that mean he should not participate in sports or other physical activities?

A:Many children with congenital heart disease can play and participate in activities with friends, but may tire faster and will naturally stop when they are tired. For others, it may be necessary to actually place limits on physical activity. Some children can play sports and participate in physical education in school, but cannot participate in competitive or contact sports. Always consult your child's pediatric cardiologist as to what type of activities are appropriate for your child. <For more information on living with congenital heart disease>

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Q: How can I help my child emotionally adjust to living with a heart defect?

A:Many factors influence how a child feels about having congenital (present at birth) heart disease, and how it affects him/her mentally and emotionally. Family, friends, and community resources can help. <For more information on the emotional and family issues surrounding congenital heart disease>

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Q: My child has a pacemaker. What precautions should be taken for her safety?

A:Your child should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace to let others know about the pacemaker in case of emergency. When she is old enough to have a wallet, it is a good idea to also carry an ID card that states she has a pacemaker. <For more information on living with a pacemaker>

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Q: Should my child be seen by a physician after fainting?

A:Some types of syncope are caused by a serious problem, so it is recommended that your child be seen by a physician to determine the reason of all fainting spells. <For more information on syncope (fainting)>

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Q: How is my child placed on the transplant waiting list for a new heart?

A:An extensive evaluation must be completed before your child can be placed on the transplant list. Testing includes: blood tests, diagnostic tests, and psychological and social evaluation of the child (if old enough) and the family. Tests are done to gather information that will help determine how urgent it is that your child is placed on the transplant list, as well as ensure the child receives a donor organ that is a good match. <For more information on heart transplant>

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Q: After my child's heart transplant, what is done to prevent rejection of the new heart?

A:Medications must be given daily for the rest of your child's life to prevent rejection, and other strong medications when needed to fight rejection. Each child is unique, and each transplant team has preferences for different medications. <For more information on heart transplant>

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Q: Where can I find more information on the Internet related to cardiovascular disease and children?

A: Information on the Internet should never substitute the medical advice you receive from your child's physician.

We have provided here links to other World Wide Web sites with information about cardiovascular diseases in children. We hope you find these sites helpful, but please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these Web sites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here. <For additional Online Resources>

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