Heart disease: signs to look for in your child

February is Childhood Heart Disease Awareness month in Australia, prompting an opportunity to learn more about the condition and check your child’s heart health.

There are many different types of heart disease that can affect children and while there is no cure, heart disease in children is manageable.

What are the symptoms?

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, there are symptoms to look out for in a child who may have heart disease.

Symptoms of serious congenital heart defects often become evident shortly after birth and include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Swelling in the legs, abdomen and around the eyes
  • Pale grey or blue skin
  • Shortness of breath during feeding, leading to a plateau in weight gain.

Symptoms of less serious congenital heart defects will become evident later in a child’s life and include:

  • Quickly becoming short of breath during exercise
  • Fainting during exercise
  • Swelling in hands, ankles and feet
  • Easily tiring during exercise.

How can it be prevented?

The development of heart disease in babies and small children is extremely difficult to prevent, with 20 per cent of cases being genetic and most other cases having no known cause.

However, here are some tips as to how you can decrease your child’s chances of heart disease later in life.

  • Feed your child healthy foods that are low in saturated fat
  • Encourage your child to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day
  • Ensure your child has regular GP check-ups
  • Limit your child’s screen time to 2 hours each day to promote physical activity.

If in doubt, it is always important to make an appointment with a GP if your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms.

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