Heart Attacks in Children: Rare but Possible

Posted On: 6/30/2010 | By: Shannon Fern

As many healthcare professionals know, adults are not the only individuals who can have heart attacks or experience cardiac arrest. Infants in children and adolescents are also at risk.  

Research shows that child or adolescent heart attacks are less frequently caused by obesity or diets high in fat. Rather, it’s suggested that heart spasms, which halt the blood supply to the heart for a brief period, are more often the trigger. 

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average person waits three hours before seeking help for heart attack symptoms. For children and infants – and even adults – three hours is too long and could mean the difference between life and death. With a Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification, you could save the life of a young child in cardiac arrest. 

Certification in PALS can help parents, teachers, coaches and childcare providers identify the signs of heart attacks in children and perform CPR until medical professionals arrive.  

Infants and children may appear limp and unresponsive if a heart attack occurs. They may also experience a bluish color to the skin due to the lack of oxygen. 

In children, it’s important not to ignore sudden but prolonged, debilitating chest pain and wait to see if the symptoms disappear. This may indicate a heart attack.  If the child becomes unresponsive or stops breathing, initiate CPR if trained in PALS and call 911 for additional medical help. 

Health Education Solutions prepares participants to perform life saving measures on infants and children in their online certification and recertification for PALS courses. Our PALS certification and PALS recertification were designed for healthcare professionals. 

The information included in this article is based on the 2005 guidelines for CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care.  Read more about the 2010 changes to the online PALS course.

Topics:  CPR  |  PALS  |  Pediatric Care  |