Childhood Heart Conditions

Common heart conditions that can lead to pediatric heart failure include:

  • Congestive heart failure
    Normally, a strong heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. When the heart becomes weak and cannot pump enough blood to the body, fluid can back up into the lungs, liver and legs.
  • Cardiomyopathy
    Some children are born with healthy hearts that become weak for reasons we do not always understand. Sometimes the heart becomes weak in babies or much later in life. This problem is called cardiomyopathy, or a weak and enlarged heart muscle. There is no surgical treatment for cardiomyopathy. A pediatric heart transplant might be needed if medicines do not improve the heart’s function.
  • Congenital heart disease
    Some children are born with heart disease that weakens their heart. There are many types of congenital (present at birth) heart disease. The heart transplant team will discuss the child’s heart condition and treatment options with the family. Surgery might be able to repair the heart defect or reroute the blood flow so the heart can pump blood and oxygen to the body. A pediatric heart transplant might be needed if the heart muscle becomes weak in spite of medicines and surgery.

Symptoms of Pediatric Heart Failure

When the heart fails, a child can have some of these symptoms:

  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Sweating

Learn More

How the Heart Works