Enlarged heart simply refers to a heart that is bigger than the usual size. The causes of enlarged heart in children may vary from normal variations to life endangering disorders. In certain cases, the child who has been referred as enlarged heart on X-ray detection may show a perfectly normal size of heart, when confirmed by echocardiogram. Hence, for diagnosis of enlarged heart, echocardiogram must be employed to rule out any false results of x-rays.
But, unfortunately at times an enlarged heart in children can be really abnormal. There are many different medical causes for an abnormally enlarged heart in children and those require a prompt medical intervention and treatment.
6 Various Causes Of Enlarged Heart In Children
Congenital Heart Defect
The most common reason for an enlarged heart in children remains the congenital heart defect. It could be a hole within the heart, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect or patent ductus arteriosus that allows blood to recirculate back to lungs, ending up pumping more blood than usual to lungs, and then returning back that extra volume to the heart. This results in gradually enlarging of heart, owing to extra amount of work done on regular basis.
There can be possible valve problems of the heart, where valve may leak or may not open completely, putting an extra load on the heart and resulting in its enlargement.
Many children with bicuspid aortic valve may show adequate aortic regurgitation that gradually causes left ventricle enlargement. This can be managed with valve replacement that may demand a heart surgery.
Under myocarditis, walls of heart muscles get affected, leading to inflammation that disrupts its squeezing or contractibility function. This is more commonly observed in adults, but also seen in children too. There could also be a possibility of myocarditis in children infected from Rubeola, Rubella or a disease of heart muscle. The muscle is not able to contract appropriately and heart enlarges in order to compensate the inability and function more efficiently.
In some children, it may be associated with chest pain or cough, while exercising. Children may experience abdominal pain or nausea and can give rise to congestive heart failure with symptoms like swelling of hand, face and feet.
Pericardium (sac that surrounds and shields the heart) can get irritated and swollen in pericarditis and is associated with dry cough, shortness of breath, sharp chest pain, fever, swelling of lower extremities and fatigue. The disease may last for a few weeks or in chronic cases, persist beyond 6 months.
Under chronic cases, it gradually causes heart to get enlarged, eventually giving rise to an enlarged size heart. The condition can be easily treated with proper medications and rest.
In endocarditis, bacterial infection may occur during dental procedure or a surgery that affects the valves of the heart, resulting in muscle aches, shortness of breath and chills. The valve insufficiency causes heart to grow in size and become enlarged. In severe cases, there could be damage of a heart valve and then surgery needs to be performed.
Lastly, heart attacks that have a rare occurrence in children may also lead to strained muscles of heart that causes an enlarged heart in children, in process of managing the stress better.
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