The heart is a vital organ, pumping life through our bodies from the moment we’re born. Yet for some children, their little hearts work too hard or struggle to do their job properly. If your child has been diagnosed with pediatric heart failure or you’re worried they may have symptoms, it can be understandably frightening and stressful time.

However, there is hope – medicine has developed treatments to manage heart conditions in children. In some cases, home healthcare may be a great resource to keep children healthy. In this post, we will examine common causes, signs and treatments for pediatric heart failure.

About heart failure

Heart failure is a scary term, often; people think that it means that the heart has completely stopped working entirely. In reality, heart failure means that the heart is not working as well as it should. When the heart can’t pump blood as well as it should, it could lead to trouble breathing and fatigue. Although there is generally no cure for heart failure, there are treatments and surgical interventions that can improve the heart’s condition. Children with heart failure can go on to lead productive lives.


Pediatric heart failure is commonly caused by congenital heart defects – anomalies in the heart muscle that are present from birth. However, heart failure can have additional causes including:

  • Cardiomyopathy – disease or enlargement of the heart
  • Ischemia – decrease in blood supply to the heart
  • Cardiac arrhythmias – irregular heartbeats
  • Anemia – low red blood cell count
  • Infections
  • Side effects of medications, especially from those used to treat cancer

Types of pediatric heart failure

There are two main types of pediatric heart failure – over-circulation failure and pump failure. Over-circulation failure is most common in congenital heart defects where the heart’s structure is malformed allowing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix instead of remaining separate as it does in a healthy heart. Pump failure is most commonly caused by infections and other medical conditions that develop after birth.  Pump failure damages the heart or causes it to develop incorrectly.

Signs and symptoms

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reports that these symptoms commonly indicate a heart problem in children. It is important to remember that these symptoms do not necessarily indicate a heart problem, they could point to another condition or illness. If your child has exhibited these symptoms, get them checked by a medical professional.

  • Becoming sweaty or short of breath during feedings
  • Blue coloring in the mouth
  • Passing out

Toddlers and small children

  • Becoming sweaty or short of breath earlier than other children
  • Being unable to keep up with other children in their age group
  • Blue coloring in the mouth

Older children and teens

  • Passing out
  • Chest pain or dizziness during exercise
  • Being unable to keep up with other children in their age group
  • Irregular or skipping heartbeats
  • Blue coloring in the mouth
  • Becoming sweaty or short of breath earlier than other children

h2>Treatment options

In this era, heart failure is generally treatable with medication or surgical interventions. The treatment that your child’s medical team may choose will depend on the severity of the heart failure and the cause of the heart failure.

Johns Hopkins Medicine shared that there are four main medicines used to treat heart failure in children: digoxin, diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta blockers. Surgical treatments may include implanting a pacemaker, cardiac resynchronization therapy or a heart transplant.

Other interventions include participating in exercise rehab programs, changing dietary habits and avoiding habits like smoking or alcohol consumption as the child ages.

Home healthcare

For more complex and severe cases of heart failure, having the support of an in-home care team can improve your child’s health outcome and help manage treatments and medications. A nurse can also help monitor vital signs, help improve strength, provide respiratory therapies and educate family members on how to manage pediatric heart failure. At Maxim Healthcare Services, our caregivers are fully certified, and you will be partnered with a nurse who is trained to support your child’s condition.

In conclusion, pediatric heart failure is a serious condition that requires careful management and treatment. As a parent or caregiver, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart failure in children. These include difficulty breathing, fatigue, poor growth, and changes in skin color. If you have a child with heart failure or suspect that they may be experiencing symptoms of this condition, it is crucial to consult a pediatric cardiologist for proper diagnosis and management. Remember, early detection and intervention can greatly improve the outcomes for children with heart failure.

At Maxim Healthcare Services, we understand the unique challenges that come with caring for a child with heart failure. Our team of skilled healthcare professionals offers comprehensive home healthcare services tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual patient. Contact your local Maxim office today to learn more about our services and how we can help support your family through this difficult time. Together, we can work towards providing the best care possible for children with heart failure.