Arrhythmias & Congenital Heart Disease in Children

There are many different causes that can create rhythm disturbances in patients with congenital heart disease. The type of structural anatomy that you were born with, surgical procedures that have been performed on your heart, long term consequences of chamber enlargement and scar formation can alter the anatomy of the electrical system of the heart, resulting in rhythm disturbances. Rhythms can often be too fast or too slow, producing a wide range of symptoms that patients may report.

Atrial and ventricular arrhythmias are common in congenital heart diseases due to chamber enlargement (stretching) and/or scarring in the atria or ventricles. Conditions such as atrial septal defects after surgical repair, Tetralogy of Fallot, classic and lateral tunnel Fontan circuits, and transposition of the great arteries after Senning/Mustard repair can be at higher risk for heart arrhythmias. Leaking of the valves that separate the atria from the ventricles can cause the atria to become large over time and long term scar formation can damage the cardiac electrical system. This injury to the heart muscle can create abnormal circuits that can trigger abnormally fast or slow rhythms. 

Diagnosis and treatment of atrial or ventricular arrhythmias in congenital heart disease are similar to these arrhythmias in patients with normal heart structure.

Read more about atrial tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.


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Heart Rhythm Disorders
Millions of people experience irregular or abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, at some point in their lives. Most of the time, they are harmless and happen in healthy people free of heart disease. However, some abnormal heart rhythms can be serious or even deadly. Having other types of heart disease can also increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Pediatrics and Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
This section is for pediatric patients and families living with heart rhythm disorders and heart rhythm disorders related to congenital heart disease (CHD).
Early Warning Signs
If you are experiencing a racing, pounding, rumbling or flopping feeling in your chest or if you have been fainting, having repeated dizzy spells, feeling lightheaded or you are extremely fatigued, it's time to see a doctor to discuss your heart health.
Common Treatments
Learning about the underlying cause of any heart rhythm disorder provides the basis for selecting the best treatment plan. Information and knowledge about care options, and their risks and benefits help you work with your health care provider to make the best choices.
Since other heart disorders increase the risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, lifestyle changes often are recommended. Living a “heart healthy” lifestyle can ease the symptoms experienced with heart rhythm disorders and other heart disorders, and can be beneficial to overall patient health.
The Normal Heart
The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle) which are the muscular chambers on the bottom of the heart that provide the major power to pump blood.