Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How do I know if my child has asthma or heart failure?

I was recently asked about asthma vs cardiac symptoms in children. This question came from a mom of a 6 year old who has recently had a heart transplant. So of course she's worried about heart disease.. of course since I am also a mom of two 6 year olds and I have heart disease I can relate to her question.

First of all, asthma is much more common in kids than heart failure.

Common asthma symptoms are chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath. They are usually triggered by something.

Common heart failure symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, chest tightness, swelling and palpitations. They are not usually triggered by anything in particular.

One can of course see how asthma can be mistaken for heart failure, especially if you are a mom who's worried about heart failure!

A child with heart failure will usually develop it as a result of either a preexisting cardiac defect or a viral myocarditis (otherwise known as cardiomyopathy). Kids with may get cardiomyopathy after a viral illness. They may have some time with a fever and tiredness before they really get sick. This is likely due to the viral illness that brought on the heart failure. Then they will get sicker. They can be short of breath at rest, not able to exercise, have a fast heart rate or faint.

The bottom line is a kid with heart failure is going to get sick pretty quickly and a kid with asthma usually doesn't.

But if you are worried about your child having a heart issue then it is completely reasonable to ask for a referral to a pediatric cardiologist. It can give you a lot of peace of mind.
Share |
Subscribe in a reader

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the info, Laura!! You ROCK! :)