Heart and Blood Conditions

Arrhythmia Symptoms and Diagnosis

  • Schedule an appointment +

    • For appointments in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, call 206-987-2515.
    • For appointments in Tacoma and Silverdale, call 253-272-1812.
    • For appointments in Alaska, call 907-339-1945.
    • How to schedule

    If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

  • Find a doctor +

  • Locations +

    • Seattle Children's Main Campus: 206-987-2515
    • Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center: 425-454-4644
    • Everett: 425-304-6080
    • South Clinic in Federal Way: 253-838-5878
    • Olympia: 360-459-5009
    • South Sound Cardiology Clinics: 253-272-1812
    • Tri-Cities (Richland): 509-946-0976
    • Wenatchee: 509-662-9266
    • Pediatric Cardiology of Alaska: 907-339-1945
    • Seattle Children's doctors provide many cardiac services at regional sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. See our complete list of Heart Center locations.

  • Refer a patient +

    • If you are a provider, fax a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) (PDF) (DOC) to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • No pre-referral work-up is required for most conditions. If you have already done testing such as an EKG, Holter monitor or echocardiogram, please fax this information as well as relevant clinic notes and the NARF to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • Your patient will be seen as quickly as possible by the provider who is the best match for managing the current problem.
    • View our complete Heart Center Referral Information (PDF).

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia can cause these problems with your child’s heartbeat:

  • Heart beats too slowly (bradycardia, pronounced brad-ih-CARD-ee-ah).
  • Heart beats too quickly (tachycardia, pronounced tack-ih-CARD-ee-ah).
  • Heartbeat is irregular — the speed and pattern change.

You and your child might not notice any problems with their heartbeat. Sometimes families have no idea their child has an arrhythmia until it is noticed during a routine exam.

Because the heartbeat affects blood flow, some arrhythmias can cause these signs and symptoms:

  • A sense of an unusual heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Feeling faint, weak, lightheaded or dizzy
  • Being short of breath
  • Tiring easily
  • Having chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Pale or ashen skin

Arrhythmia Diagnosis

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will examine your child, check their heartbeat and use a stethoscope to listen to their heart. The doctor will ask for details about any symptoms your child has, their health history and your family health history.

Some kinds of arrhythmia happen only once in a while. When they are not happening, they can be difficult to detect. For this reason, arrhythmias can be hard to diagnose.

To learn about the electrical activity in your child’s heart, the doctor will use an electrocardiogram (ECG). If an abnormal heartbeat does not happen during this test, your child may be asked to wear a monitoring device at home. Depending on the nature of your child’s symptoms and your child’s age, the appropriate monitor will be selected. For daily symptoms, a device called a Holter monitor is typically used. This monitor can record the heart’s activity for 24 hours. For less frequent symptoms, another device, called an event recorder, can be activated by you or your child when they feel a problem with their heart rhythm.

Other common tests to evaluate arrhythmia include echocardiogram and exercise testing. Some children may need a chest X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the heart, or blood tests.

Our doctors also use electrophysiology studies, which enable them to find the cause of the arrhythmia and, in many cases, cure it.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.