Heart Health in Kids: “Excessive sweating, increased shortness of breath can be signs of heart disease in kids”

Heart disease in children is not related to lifestyle, unlike in adults. Therefore, children do not develop heart disease due to any fault of theirs or their parents. However, once heart disease is diagnosed, early intervention is essential for good outcomes. And for this patients should consult a pediatric cardiologist and follow the treatment advice given. “Congenital heart defects are developmental abnormalities and are usually not caused by health problems or mistakes during pregnancy.”

We spoke with Dr. Supratim Sen, Sr. Consultant (Pediatric Cardiology) SRCC Children’s Hospital, managed by Narayana Health and Ms. Roshan Kore, Sr. occurrence and signs of heart disease in children.

“Unfortunately, even today, we see children who have been diagnosed with a hole in the heart in infancy and advised early surgery, and the parents have not brought the child in for surgery because they believe the heart disease will resolve itself. or that the child is too young for heart surgery. And with this delay, the child develops late complications such as pulmonary hypertension and may even become inoperable.”

Should children be screened for heart disease?

Not all children need routine heart tests. Children should have regular health checkups with their pediatrician and if the pediatrician suspects heart disease in the child, then they are referred to a Pediatric Cardiologist. The Pediatric Cardiologist will then evaluate the child in detail and perform an echocardiogram to diagnose the heart defect and begin treatment.

The most common heart defects in children are congenital heart defects, which the child is born with. Major congenital heart defects can be detected by fetal echocardiography during pregnancy itself. After the baby is born, critical heart defects can be diagnosed and treated within hours of birth.

Also Read: Don’t Ignore These Heart Trouble Symptoms

What are some signs that a child’s heart health needs attention?

Symptoms and signs such as babies not feeding well, getting tired while feeding, having poor weight gain and excessive sweating indicate congenital heart disease. Some babies and infants will have blue discoloration of their lips, tongue and nails while crying. Older children may experience recurrent pneumonia, fatigue, and increased shortness of breath on exertion.

Do you often see children reporting heart problems?

As a pediatric cardiologist, I regularly see children with heart disease. However, in the general population, only about 8-10 babies in 1000 live births are born with heart disease. Thus, about 1% of all children have congenital heart disease. A small percentage of children have acquired heart conditions such as Kawasaki disease and rheumatic heart disease, and in the last two years, post-COVID MIS-C that affects the heart.

What is the amount of exercise children should be getting each day?

Children should be encouraged to play outdoor sports and games and their screen time and TV viewing time should be limited. No minimum or maximum hours or amount of exercise are recommended, but 1-2 hours of daily outdoor activity is helpful in encouraging and encouraging a healthy lifestyle early on. Of course, exercise and outdoor activity should be balanced with schoolwork and studies as the child grows.

Children with heart disease may have limitations in how much they can and should exercise, and this should be discussed with their pediatric cardiologist.

Also Read: Heart Attack: Women! Watch out for THESE warning signs that can appear a month before a heart attack

What is a heart healthy diet? Are there foods that children should eat every day?

A heart-healthy diet is what equips a person to fight heart disease. She recommends that the child’s diet has a variety of foods with foods from different food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, nuts, legumes and vegetable oils. Such a diet helps maintain a healthy weight and stable metabolism, while providing all the nutrients to meet a child’s daily needs according to the RDA (recommended dietary allowance). Foods high in calories but low in nutrients, such as cakes, donuts and sugary drinks, foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and high sodium should be eaten in moderation or avoided.

A child with congenital heart disease has a high metabolism which causes calories to be burned faster and therefore needs to be fed high calorie foods. Frequent mealtime foods rich in calories and nutrients help meet this increased requirement. Foods high in protein such as milk or dairy, meat, legumes, sprouts and nuts should be included. For older children it is best to avoid salty, fried, sweet and junk food.

Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect, so foods such as fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola, soy and soybean oil, chia seeds and green leafy vegetables should be included regularly in the diet .

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