Heart health in children: “Excessive sweating, increased breathlessness can be signs of heart disease in children”

Heart disease in children is not related to lifestyle, unlike it is in adults. Therefore, children do not develop heart disease due to any mistake made by them or their parents. However, once heart disease has been diagnosed, prompt intervention is essential for good outcomes. And for this, the patient needs to consult a pediatric cardiologist and follow the treatment advice given. “Congenital heart defects are birth defects and are not usually caused by any health problems or mistakes made during pregnancy.”

We spoke with Dr. Supratim Sen, Consultant (Pediatric Cardiology) SRCC Children’s Hospital, managed by Narayana Health, and Ms. Roshan Kore, Dietitian (Pediatric Nutrition and Dietetics) ), SRCC Children’s Hospital, managed by Narayana Health to better understand the appearance and signs of heart disease in children.

“Unfortunately, even today, we see children who have been diagnosed with a perforated heart at an early age and are consulted for early surgery, whose parents do not take the child for surgery because they believe that heart disease will go away on its own. or the child is too young for heart surgery. And with this delay, the child will develop late complications such as pulmonary hypertension and may even be inactive.”

Should children be screened for heart conditions?

Not all children need regular heart-related tests. Children should have regular checkups with their pediatrician, and if the pediatrician suspects heart disease, the child will be referred to a Pediatric Cardiologist. The pediatric cardiologist will then perform a detailed assessment of the child and echocardiography to diagnose a heart defect and initiate treatment.

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

Also Read: Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Heart Problems

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

Symptoms and signs such as poor feeding, fatigue when feeding, poor weight gain, and excessive sweating are signs of congenital heart disease. Some babies and newborns will have a blue discoloration of their lips, tongue, and fingernails when they cry. Older children may have recurrent pneumothorax, fatigue, and shortness of breath on exertion.

How often do you see children reporting heart problems?

Since I’m a pediatric cardiologist, I see kids with heart conditions on a regular basis. However, in the general population, only about 8-10 babies out of every 1000 live births are born with heart disease. So about 1% of children have congenital heart disease. A small percentage of children have heart conditions such as Kawasaki disease and Rheumatic heart disease, and over the past few years COVID MIS-C disease affects the heart.

How much exercise should children do daily?

Children should be encouraged to play outdoor sports and games, and screen time and TV viewing should be limited. There is no recommended minimum or maximum amount or amount of exercise, but 1-2 hours of daily outdoor activity will be helpful in inculcating and encouraging a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Of course, exercise and outdoor activities will need to be balanced with schoolwork and learning as the child grows.

Children with heart disease may have limitations as to how much they can and should exert themselves, and this should be discussed with a 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? What foods should children eat every day?

A heart-healthy diet is one that equips an individual to fight heart disease. It recommends that children’s diets be varied with foods from many food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, nuts, and seeds. beans 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 intake). . Consume in moderation or avoid foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients such as cakes, donuts and sugary drinks, foods with saturated fats, trans fats, and large amounts of sodium .

A child with congenital heart disease has a high metabolism which makes the process of burning calories faster and therefore they need to be fed foods that are high in calories. Frequent feedings of high-calorie and nutrient-dense meals help meet this increased need. Include protein-rich foods such as milk or dairy, meat, beans, sprouts, and nuts. For older children, it is best to avoid salty foods, fried foods, sweets and junk foods.

Foods containing protective Omega 3 fatty acids should include foods such as fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, rapeseed, soybeans and soybean oils, chia seeds and green leafy vegetables should be included in the regular diet.

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