Caritas Heart Institute

Heart Disease in Children: Congenital and Acquired Conditions

December 2023


When we think of heart disease, we often associate it with adults. However, heart disease can also affect children, with various congenital and acquired conditions posing a threat to their heart health. In this article, we will explore the different types of heart disease in children, including both congenital heart defects and acquired conditions, to raise awareness about this important topic.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are structural abnormalities present at birth. They can affect the heart's structure, valves, walls, or blood vessels, and they can range from minor issues that cause no symptoms to severe, life-threatening conditions. Some common congenital heart defects include:

  1. Atrial Septal Defect (ASD): An opening in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart (atria) that can lead to abnormal blood flow.
  2. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD):A hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) that can disrupt the heart's ability to pump blood effectively.
  3. Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA):A persistent opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery, which can lead to increased blood flow to the lungs.
  4. Tetralogy of Fallot: A complex congenital heart defect involving four specific heart abnormalities, leading to poor oxygen distribution in the body.
  5. Transposition of the Great Arteries: An abnormality where the two main arteries, the aorta and the pulmonary artery, are switched.

Acquired Heart Conditions in Children

In addition to congenital heart defects, children can also develop acquired heart conditions, often due to infections, diseases, or other factors. These conditions may include:

  1. Kawasaki Disease: A rare childhood illness that can cause inflammation in blood vessels, including those in the heart, potentially leading to coronary artery aneurysms.
  2. Rheumatic Fever: An inflammatory disease that can damage the heart valves, particularly in children who have had untreated strep throat.
  3. Cardiomyopathy: A group of diseases that affect the heart muscle, making it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively.
  4. Infective Endocarditis: An infection of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves, usually caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing heart disease in children often involves a combination of physical examinations, medical history, and specialized tests like echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, and chest X-rays. The treatment varies based on the specific condition, its severity, and the child's age. Options may include:

- Medications: To manage symptoms, improve heart function, or prevent complications.

- Surgery: Some conditions require surgical intervention to repair heart defects or replace damaged heart valves.

- Catheter Procedures:Less invasive procedures, often used to close holes in the heart or open narrowed blood vessels.

- Heart Transplant: In severe cases where the heart is severely damaged or there are no other treatment options, a heart transplant may be considered.

Living with Heart Disease in Children

Many children with heart disease go on to live active, fulfilling lives. Advances in medical care and surgical techniques have improved outcomes for children with heart conditions. Regular follow-up with pediatric cardiologists and adherence to treatment plans are essential for managing the condition effectively.


Heart disease can affect children, and it can be congenital or acquired. Early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and ongoing care are essential for ensuring that children with heart conditions have the best chance for a healthy and vibrant life. Raising awareness about heart disease in children is crucial, as it can lead to improved outcomes and support for affected families.

Read More
Cardiovascular Exercise: A Key to a Healthy Heart

Caritas Heart Institute

Cardiovascular Exercise: A Key to a Healthy Heart

December 2023

Cardiovascular Medications: What You Need to Know

Caritas Heart Institute

Cardiovascular Medications: What You Need to Know

December 2023