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Pediatric Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is a change in the regular, even rhythm of the heartbeat. Many pediatric arrhythmias are isolated occurrences that are harmless, but some can be serious and even life-threatening.

Atrial arrhythmias in children include:

  • Premature atrial contractions (PACs)— early beats that start in the atria
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)— a rapid, usually regular rhythm, starting from above the ventricles (SVT begins and ends suddenly)
  • AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)— a rapid heart rate due to more than one pathway through the AV node
  • Atrial fibrillation— a condition in which many impulses begin and spread through the atria, competing for a chance to travel through the AV node
  • Atrial flutter— an arrhythmia caused by one or more rapid circuits in the atrium
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome— a condition in which an electrical signal may arrive at the ventricle too quickly due to an extra conduction pathway or a shortcut from the atria to the ventricles

Ventricular arrhythmias in children include:

  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)— early extra beats beginning in the ventricles. These occur when the electrical signal starts in the ventricles, causing them to contract before receiving signals from the atria
  • Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach)— a life-threatening condition in which electrical signals start from the ventricles in a fast and irregular rate
  • Ventricular fibrillation— an irregular, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles

Bradyarrhythmias in children include:

  • Sinus node dysfunction— a slow heart rhythm due to an abnormal SA node
  • Heart block— a delay or complete block of the electrical impulse from the SA node to the ventricles

Signs & Symptoms

Some common symptoms of arrhythmias in children include:

  • Fevers
  • Palpitations (heart flutters)
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Low blood pressure

Diagnosis

A Deborah pediatric cardiologist may do a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the heartbeat, to see if it is beating regularly. Other tests may be needed including:

  • Electrophysiology tests
  • Tilt table test