Children's Hospital Colorado
Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology Program

Arrhythmia in Children

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What is arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat (too fast, too slow or irregular) that can cause the heart to pump less blood to the body than it should. Sometimes arrhythmias are harmless. Other times, an arrhythmia is dangerous and can cause damage to the heart muscle and the entire body.

What causes arrhythmia in children?

In a healthy heart, a group of nerves in the upper right heart chamber (right atrium) sends small electrical signals to the heart muscles that make them contract and expand in a regular rhythm. This creates a heartbeat and ensures that the heart is pumping enough blood to the body. Your doctor may refer to this as cardiac output.

But in some cases, the nerve group doesn't send the correct electrical pulses. In other cases, those electrical pulses don't travel through the heart appropriately, or they go too fast or too slow. This creates an arrhythmia.

Who gets arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias are more common in adults, but they can happen at any age. Children can be born with or develop arrhythmia in childhood. In these cases, doctors refer to them as pediatric arrhythmias. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, experts in our Heart Institute and Colorado Fetal Care Center may be involved in you or your child’s treatment and care.

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