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Pediatrics Study: Heart Disease Rarely Cause of Chest Pain in Children

Posted by floriza in Pediatrics

A study published in Pediatrics shows that chest pain is rarely linked to heart disease in children. The researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts studied ten years of the medical records of 3,700 children over the age of six who had been examined at the facility after complaining of chest pain. Only one percent of the children were found to have heart disease, and no children died during the ten years of the pediatric study.

Despite the fact that children frequently experience chest pain, heart problems are not usually the cause. The most common diagnoses that did point to heart problems were not life-threatening and included rapid heartbeat and heart inflammation. In fact, fewer than six children in 100,000 in the United States suffer sudden cardiac death each year. The rarity of these incidents is what causes them to be reported in the media, and this, understandably, makes parents nervous.

For most children who complain of chest pain, the cause is indigestion/acid reflux, bronchial infections, or asthma. In more than half of the cases in the study, however, the cause could not be determined. Cardiac issues were simply eliminated as a possibility.

All of the children who presented at the hospital during the study period were tested for heart problems, including EKGs, stress tests, and/or echocardiograms.

Do ADHD Drugs Cause Pediatric Heart Problems?

Another study conducted at Vanderbilt University showed that ADHD drugs like Ritalin do not create a greater risk of heart disease in children as has previously been thought. The children studied who took these drugs were not more likely to experience a heart attack or a stroke than children who did not take the drugs.

The study was sponsored by the FDA and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Pediatric Cardiovascular Health and Obesity

While heart issues are not common in children, obesity in both children and adults leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which often leads to cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than three times as many children are obese today as 30 years ago. The American Heart Association states that one in three children in the United States are either overweight or obese.

Pediatricians in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. recommend that children develop heart-healthy habits at a young age. The American Heart Association website contains information to help children develop a heart-healthy diet and exercise program.

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