Most people think of childhood heart failure as something that affects older people, but the young – adolescents – can be diagnosed this condition as well. In this case, “heart failure” refers to a heart that is working but not functioning as efficiently as it should. When this condition is diagnosed in adults, it is usually caused by the following:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve problem
- High blood pressure
Heart failure has been diagnosed in newborn babies, children and teens. When younger people are affected by this condition, it is caused by two factors: pump failure or overcirculation failure.
Pump failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes damaged and no longer works properly. A virus may be responsible for the damage or a congenital heart defect may be to blame.
Older children or teens with pump failure may complain of getting tired easily. If the child is being treated for a serious medical condition, such as leukemia or other forms of cancer, the medications used may damage the heart. In some cases, the damage to the heart is due to a congenital heart defect or an injury to the chest region. Young people who have been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy may also have cardiac issues.
Overcirculation failure is a condition that occurs when the blood becomes mixed inside the heart, and occurs as the result of a congenital heart defect. Approximately one percent of babies are born with this type of structural problem, which may be a hole between the chambers on the left and right sides of the heart. A valve that doesn’t close properly may cause blood to leak back into the upper chamber of the heart.
In some rare instances, a strep infection can damage the heart by causing the valves to leak. Anemia can also lead to heart failure by interfering with the normal blood flow to the body.
Treatment for Adolescent Heart Failure
The treatment for adolescent heart disease depends on the reason for the heart failure. If a congenital heart defect is the cause, then the doctor will probably recommend surgery. Medications to lower blood pressure and give the heart a chance to start pumping more normally may be prescribed as well. A pacemaker may be put in place to keep the heart beating properly. Surgery is needed to put the battery-operated device in place.