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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Congestive Heart Failure in Children
      Category : Health Centers > Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive Heart Failure in Children

Alternate Names : CHF in Children

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot adequately pump blood. Because the pumping action of the heart is reduced, blood backs up into certain body tissues, causing fluid buildup.

What is going on in the body?

Congestive heart failure is caused by a variety of complex problems that cause the pumping chambers of the heart to fail.

The heart is divided into a left heart and a right heart. The blood receives oxygen as it passes through the lungs. The left heart receives blood from the lungs and pumps this oxygen-rich blood to the organs, muscles, and tissues of the body. The right heart receives oxygen-poor blood from these organs and tissues. It then pumps it to the lungs to receive a fresh supply of oxygen.

If the pumping chambers of the heart do not function properly, blood stays in the lungs or in the tissues of the body. This leads to congestion of these areas with blood and fluid, the reason for the term congestive heart failure. The organs and tissues do not receive an adequate supply of blood, and they begin to suffer the effects.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The most common cause of congestive heart failure in children is congenital heart disease, including:

  • cardiac malformations, such as tetralogy of Fallot
  • abnormalities of the heart valves
  • underdevelopment of one or both ventricles
  • coarctation of the aorta, which is a narrowing of the vessel bringing blood to the heart
  • ventricular septal defects, or holes in the walls that separate the left and right sides of the heart
  • patent ductus arteriosus, or an abnormal connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery that mixes oxygenated and unoxygenated blood
  • Other causes of congestive heart failure in children include:

  • rheumatic heart disease, caused by damage to the heart from group A strep infections
  • bacterial endocarditis, or inflammation of the lining of the heart due to an infection
  • myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle
  • complications of open heart surgery
  • chronic anemia, which results in a low red blood cell count
  • poor nutrition
  • drug toxicity


    Next section


    Congestive Heart Failure in Children: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eric Berlin, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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