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Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is when the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the body's needs.

There are many reasons why a child might have congestive heart failure, including diseases of the muscle and, commonly, a congenital heart defect that allows extra blood to go to the lungs.

Heart problems such as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD) and atrioventricular canal defect (AVC) can all have symptoms of heart failure.The most common symptoms of heart failure in children include:

  • Fast breathing (tachypnea)
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Edema or swelling of the face
  • Less urine or fewer wet diapers
  • Problems eating or tiring while eating, such as stopping to breathe during feeding
  • Difficulty gaining weight because of problems eating

Medications are helpful in treating the early stages of heart failure. Eventually heart failure may need surgical repair of the heart problem.

In muscle diseases of the heart, a ventricular assist device or heart transplant may help.