Heart palpitations are irregular or quick heart beats. Heart palpitations in children can be caused by a range of things, and not all causes are serious. If your child has stated that he is suffering from heart palpitations, it is important to mention this information to his doctor. Also ask your child whether he feels any additional symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness.
Heart palpitations can feel like a fluttering in the child's chest, or missed beats. A paediatrician will refer to any type of rapid heartbeat experienced by the patient as heart palpitations. Heart palpitations are commonly detected during a paediatric physical exam, in many cases due to the stress the child feels being at the doctor's office.
Premature heartbeats are a common cause of childhood heart palpitations. This is typically a non-serious medical condition that occurs when the electrical system of the body receives a signal from the heart prior to the sinus node. Many children will not notice the extra beats caused by the condition. However, if the child feels faint due to these premature heartbeats, your doctor should be consulted.
If the child has extra connections in her heart causing the palpitations, then she is suffering from a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia. In most cases, the heart palpitations will last only a few minutes and will not be cause for concern unless they last for a significant period of time, like for over an hour. A more serious condition, ventricular tachycardia, can also cause heart palpitations in a child and stems from the ventricles of the heart. The child may feel faint or pass out if she suffers from this condition.
In some incidences, heart palpitations are normal when associated with another medical condition in children. Heart palpitations can occur in periods of high stress or anxiety. Also, exercise can cause a child to feel a rapid heartbeat.
Serious Heart Conditions
In rare cases, heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious heart condition, including a structural abnormality. More serious causes of palpitations in children are mitral valve prolapse and cardiomyopathy. To further diagnose the cause of the problem, your paediatrician will likely order an EKG or require that you take home an event monitor to record the child's heartbeat when he is having heart palpitations.