• Abnormal Heart Rhythm

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    An abnormal heart rhythm – or heart beat – is called an arrhythmia (a-RITH-mi-a) or dysrhythmia (dis-RITH-mi-a). The number of heart beats in a minute determines the heart rate.  Normal heart rates change as a child matures.  The heart of a newborn baby normally beats about 140 times per minute.  A five-year-old may have a heart rate of 100 beats a minute.  And the normal heart rate of an older child or teenager at rest is about 70 beats a minute.  

    The heart rate changes easily.  During exercise, it beats faster.  During rest, it slows.  

    Usually the heart beats at regular intervals. Arrhythmia, or dysthythmia, occurs when it beats irregularly.  One type of arrhythmia – sinus arrhythmia – is normal.  It occurs when a child breathes in and the heart beat increases and when he or she breathes out and the heart rate slows.  
    If your child’s doctor detects another kind of arrhythmia, he or she may recommend tests and/or a visit to a pediatric cardiologist (a doctor with special medical training in children's heart problems). 

    Often an irregular heart beat has no symptoms and goes unnoticed by parents and child.  Sometimes, it is detected during a routine wellness exam.  Medications – those that are prescribed and those bought without prescription at your pharmacy – may contribute to your child’s irregular heart beat.  Talk with your doctor about your child’s medications if an irregular heart beat is detected.  

    Read more about the heart’s electrical system and common arrhythmias in children.