Often, individuals perceive ectopic beats as a sensation of the heart ‘missing
a beat’. This is typically followed by what feels like a stronger heartbeat or a
noticeable ‘thump’. These sensations are due to extra heartbeats, medically
known as extra systoles or ectopic beats.
The most common form of heart irregularity in children is the occurrence
of an extra heartbeat. This extra beat is followed by a slight pause, leading
to the perception of a missed heartbeat, and then often a more forceful beat. Ectopic
beats are generally harmless and tend to disappear with physical activity.
Good dental hygiene is essential, especially for children and adults with congenital heart disease, as poor dental health can lead to infections spreading to the heart. Therefore, regular dental check-ups are crucial.
Inform your dentist about the heart condition before any treatment. To prevent germs from entering the bloodstream and affecting the heart, a single dose of antibiotics may be given one hour prior to dental procedures.
Exercise is beneficial, even for those with heart conditions. It improves heart function, overall well-being and is associated with increased life expectancy and reduced heart disease risk in later life. It also aids in weight control and blood pressure reduction.
Different types of exercise, such as static (e.g., weight lifting) and dynamic dynamic (e.g., running), have varying impacts on the body and heart. Children with heart conditions should consult their doctor to determine safe levels and types of exercise, especially in school settings where physical activities can be intensive.
Most children with heart disease can follow standard vaccinations schedule. However, those with immune deficiencies, such as DiGeorge syndrome or an isomerism, or those who are receiving immunosuppression, such as post-transplantation, may require a modified vaccination schedule.
Before travelling, especially long distances or to unusual destinations:
Use support stockings and take aspirin or equivalent unless your doctor advises against it
Special diets are not normally required for those with heart disease,
but a balanced one is important. Maintaining a normal weight is crucial as excess
weight increases the heart’s workload.
Children with heart disease are generally not more prone to infections, although some may be susceptible to chest infections or have associated immune deficiencies, particularly those with holes in the heart (ASD, VSD, PDA). Viral infections are common and usually resolve without antibiotics, but medical advice should be sought in case of uncertainty.
Not all children with heart disease require medication. Those who do may need it for fluid reduction, aiding heart pumping, rhythm control or blood thinning.
While these medications are generally safe, side effects can occur, especially with other illnesses or medication changes. Any unusual symptoms or side-should be promptly reported to the doctor.
Most women with heart disease can have a normal pregnancy and delivery. Exceptions may include those with severe cyanosis or pulmonary hypertension, where pregnancy can pose significant risks. It is essential to seek medical advice before pregnancy so the process can be monitored, and if treatment is necessary, it can be provided early.