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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 do damage to the heart muscle and the entire body.
In the normal heart, a group of nerves in the upper right heart chamber (right atrium) sends small electrical shocks to the heart muscles that make them contract and expand in a regular, rhythmic fashion. This creates a heartbeat and ensures that the heart is pumping adequate amounts of blood to the body (known as normal 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.
The most common types of arrhythmia we treat at the Children's Hospital Colorado Arrhythmia Center include:
Common cardiac arrhythmia symptoms can include:
Children with pediatric arrhythmia symptoms also often have a family history of abnormal heart rhythms. If your child has experienced some of the above symptoms, please contact your doctor.
Note that in many cases, a child has no obvious symptoms. Pediatricians sometimes first notice the condition while listening to a child's heart during a physical exam.
After hearing an irregular heartbeat during a physical exam or obtaining a medical history with its symptoms, your doctor will refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital Colorado for testing.
We provide several types of non-invasive and pain-free tests for arrhythmias, which can include:
Other types of testing include:
To learn more about arrhythmia and children, visit:
There are many treatment options for heart arrhythmias. These options will depend on your child's health, the type of arrhythmia he or she has, and the severity of the arrhythmia.
At the Heart Institute, your child's pediatric cardiologist will work with the team to develop a arrhythmia treatment plan that's best for your child. Common arrhythmia treatments are:
With regular follow-up care, children with controlled arrhythmia can lead normal, healthy lives. Talk to your child's cardiologist about the signs and symptoms of arrhythmia so you're able to recognize any changes or potential problems with your child's condition.
Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiac Surgery
Cardiology - Pediatric, Critical Care - Pediatric, Pediatrics
Cardiology, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology