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Common Reasons For Cardiac Arrest In Children

Sudden cardiac arrest in children is rare, but it can occur due to multiple causes like autonomic nervous system dysfunction, ion channelopathies, cardiomyopathies, and others. Pediatric cardiac arrest happens to almost twenty thousand children in the U.S. each year, and four to five percent of all these deaths between the ages of 5 and 19 are because of cardiac arrest. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some common reasons, causes, and symptoms of cardiac arrest in children and what to do in case of emergencies. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s Pediatric Cardiac Arrest?

Before we dive into the specific reasons for cardiac arrest, we must understand what pediatric cardiac arrest is and how it’s caused. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating abruptly, preventing blood circulation to major organs and the brain. The lack of blood flow and oxygen can cause the child to collapse. If a caregiver does not intervene to start CPR or use an AED to kickstart the heart, the child may sustain brain damage and even die. 

Pediatric cardiac arrest is slightly different from a general heart attack because a heart attack indicates a blockage in the arteries due to fat, cholesterol, or another substance. The causes of a heart attack are different. Meanwhile, cardiac arrest causes in children are discussed below:

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What Are The Causes Of Cardiac Arrest In Children?

Cardiac arrest causes differences in children and adults, some of which are outlined as follows:

  1. Myocarditis

There is a muscle that makes up the heart called the myocardium. However, if the heart’s muscle gets inflamed and swollen, it can prevent the heart from pumping blood efficiently and cause arrhythmias. Some common symptoms include passing out, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, chest pain, trouble breathing, fast breathing, or tiredness. It can develop due to a bacterial infection, cancer medication, an autoimmune disorder, a reaction to a medicine, or consuming a toxic chemical. 

If your child has been diagnosed with Myocarditis, chances are they’ll recover in a few months or even a few years, depending on the heart’s condition. However, some kids have lasting heart damage, a rare occurrence. If it happens, blood can build up in the lung and heart, causing arrhythmias or cardiomyopathy (an enlarged, weak heart). If the damage is too severe, your child may need a heart transplant. 

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  1. Long QT Syndrome

It is a condition that affects the heart’s electrical system in which it takes the heart longer to squeeze or recharge. If this condition is left untreated, the results can be dangerous. 

There’s an area in our heart known as the sinus node, which is responsible for sending electrical signals that communicate to the heart to beat in a normal sinus rhythm. And after each heartbeat, the heart takes time to recharge before the second heartbeat, also known as the QT interval. If this interval, for some reason, is extended beyond the natural recharge time, it can change the heart rhythm, endangering the child’s life. 

There aren’t any apparent symptoms of QT syndrome, but your child may feel faint or lightheaded with some changes in their heart rhythm. They may also have a seizure. Also, things like exercise and stress can cause QT syndrome symptoms without warning. 

QT syndrome sometimes appears as congenital heart disease, or it’s acquired later as your child develops due to electrolyte imbalances or has a reaction to certain medicines. This condition can be treated and managed, but it’s incurable. However, if medication is causing this symptom, it may go away once your child stops taking the reactive medication. 

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How To Increase Chances Of Survival

You can increase the chances of survival during a cardiac arrest with the following:

  1. Immediately recognize cardiac arrest symptoms.
  2. Start CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), focusing on chest compressions. 
  3. Use an AED machine to establish a normal heart rhythm within five minutes of a cardiac arrest. 
  4. Access advanced life support. 
  5. Monitor your child’s condition post-cardiac arrest. 

How To Perform CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation manually pumps the blood around the body and maintains circulation allowing oxygenated blood to reach the brain and the organs until the heartbeat is restored. CPR is most effective right after the heart collapses. And if you have an AED device near, you must use it within the next five minutes to increase your chances of survival. 

Continue performing CPR until the medical team arrives. If your child is between 0-1 years of age, place two fingers on their chest above the nipple line and press 1/3rd of an inch deep into their chest at the rate of hundred beats per minute. At the end of the minute, perform two rescue breaths that should take one second each. Keep at it until a paramedic takes over or your child is awake, moving, and breathing. 

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Enroll In An Online PALS Certification Course Today!

Having cpr and first aid training doesn’t qualify you for PALS. So, if you want to acquire a pediatric life support certification, CPR, ACLS & PALS Training Institute have got you covered. They also provide ACLS, basic life support certification online, cpr and first aid certification

Visit their website or get in touch with them today to learn more about training, classes, and certifications. 

About The Author

Marcia, J. has been working as a PALS course instructor at CPR, ACLS & PALS Training Institute for five years and has ten years of nursing experience in the healthcare industry. She also writes for acclaimed websites and magazines to educate her readers about life support training and courses and how they can save someone’s life. 


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