What is an arrhythmia?
A pediatric arrhythmia is any change in heartbeat. Heart rate can race, slow or skip.
An arrhythmia is a heart condition where there is a change in heart rate — either too quick (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or it’s skipping a beat (palpitations). It may be the result of a heart defect or caused by outside factors like illness, fever, exercise, trauma, or a reaction to allergens or medicines.
What are the types of arrhythmias?
There are 11 types of pediatric arrhythmias, which are grouped into the three categories: atrial, ventricular and bradyarrhythmias.
Atrial arrhythmias (relating to the upper two chambers of the heart)
- Atrial fibrillation – An irregular, rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood circulation.
- Atrial flutter – Occurs when the heart’s upper chambers beat too quickly.
- AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) – Rapid heartbeat due to more than one path through the AV node (part of the electrical conduction system that manages the top of the heart).
- Premature atrial contractions (PACs) – Causes early, extra heart beats that start in the upper chambers.
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) – Causes a rapid heart rate in both the upper and lower chambers.
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – Occurs when an extra electrical pathway between the upper and lower chambers of the heart cause a rapid heartbeat.
Ventricular arrhythmias (relating to the lower two chambers of the heart)
- Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) – Causes early, extra heart beats that start in the lower chambers.
- Ventricular fibrillation – Causes rapid, inadequate heartbeat. This condition is the most serious of the arrhythmias and can be life-threatening.
- Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) – Causes fast, irregular electrical impulses that begin in the heart's ventricle. It can be a life-threatening condition.
- Heart block – Causes a delay or complete stop of the electrical impulses from the sinus node (the heart’s natural pacemaker, located in the right, upper heart chamber) to the ventricles.
- Sinus node dysfunction – Causes a slow heart rhythm.
What are the symptoms of an arrhythmia?
- Difficulty or uninterested in eating (especially with newborns in the first 28 days)
- Chest pain
- Pale coloring
- Lethargy (exhaustion)
- Shortness of breath