5 myths about heart disease in children

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World Heart Day

Misconceptions, from genetic predisposition to symptoms, hinder early diagnosis and initiation of treatment

By Writing

Sep 29, 2020 at 7:37 am

Celebrated on September 29, World Heart Day aims to encourage people to take care of their health and to control the risk factors that can contribute to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

CVDs are usually the result of the accumulation of several factors, such as age, lifestyle, diet and smoking. But when they appear in children, it is necessary to investigate whether the problem has been present since birth.

Find out what’s myth and what’s true about heart disease in children – Photo: Baby – photo created by freepik

“In this case, we call the disease congenital heart disease. The reason is that the important blood-carrying organ, the heart, did not develop in a normal way when the baby was still inside the mother’s womb ”, explains the pediatric cardiologist at Doctoralia, Priscila Maruoka.

According to the World Heart Federation, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, affecting about 17 million people every year.

“In children, the early diagnosis of congenital heart disease is even more crucial. An undiagnosed heart defect can progress and become inoperable after a few months or years, depending on the problem. In addition, the prevention of CVDs, such as heart attack and stroke, starts from childhood, with the introduction of healthy lifestyle habits ”, explains the cardiologist.

The expert clarifies the 5 main myths about cardiovascular diseases in children:

Heart disease only happens to older people

Myth
Although the risk of some heart problems increases with age, heart disease can affect anyone, from any age group. Some cases are congenital and can be diagnosed soon after birth or years later, when they cause symptoms.

The holes in the heart close as the child grows

Myth
Also known as heart murmur, this noise produced by the flow of blood through the structures of the heart can be divided into two categories: functional (has no symptoms and is common in up to 50% of healthy children) or pathological (associated with heart defects ).

Most of them do not close and the waiting can cause irreversible damage to the pulmonary vessels, therefore, it is essential to consult a pediatric cardiologist to analyze which category the murmur fits into and guide for the correct treatment.

The baby can be operated when he gains 10 kg

Myth
Most children with significant holes in the heart will never gain enough weight until they are operated on. A child with a large hole in the heart, who weighs 4 kg at five months, will probably never gain 10 kg.

This is because the heart spends more energy trying to send enough blood to the whole body than the amount of calories a child takes. The pediatric cardiac surgeon can operate on a 2 kg baby, if necessary.

My son has had cardiac surgery, but I think he will be a “cardiac patient” for life. He will not be able to run, play and do other normal things in childhood.

Myth
The most common types of heart defects, if corrected in time, do not affect life after surgery. Although periodic examinations are essential, life remains normal, like that of any other child.

Atherosclerosis (fat deposits in the vessels) is a disease that affects adults only.

Myth
It has been proven that the disease starts in childhood. Usually, the disease is not discovered until adolescence (12-17 years of age), but it ends up putting children at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, high cholesterol and strokes. In most children, changes in arteries are mild and can be reduced with a healthy lifestyle.

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