Heart failure can occur at any age and for many reasons. For newborns, babies, children and teenagers, there are 2 main categories of heart failure:
- Birth defects and other problems with the structures of the heart
- Problems with the heart muscle
Children may be born with these problems (congenital), or they may develop them later in life. Heart failure may also happen after open-heart repair of birth defects. This may be a temporary condition (lasting for days) or may persist for a prolonged period (months or years, or, in some cases permanently).
Birth defects and other structural problems
Birth defects are the most common cause of heart failure in babies and children. Defects like aortic stenosis, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, coarctation of the aorta, ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular septal defect, and others sometimes lead to heart failure. They can cause heart failure because they cause problems with blood flow into, out of or within the heart.
Heart muscle problems
Diseases of the heart muscle, such as myocarditis or cardiomyopathy, may cause heart failure. These diseases can make the heart muscle unable to pump the way it should. Heart failure can happen if the heart beats too fast or too slow.