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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Q: What causes heart failure?
A: Heart failure in children may be caused by a number of conditions, including congenital heart defects (defects that are present at birth) and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease). Your child’s doctor will fully explain the specific condition your child has, including the cause, treatment options and prognosis.
Q: What are some of the most common signs of heart failure?
Q: What’s the long-term outlook for my child? Is there a cure for heart failure?
A: Long-term outlook depends on what caused the heart failure. Some children with heart failure due to myocarditis (inflamation of the heart muscle) may have a complete recovery of heart function. More often, heart failure is a chronic condition. Fortunately, we have several ways, depending upon its cause, of treating and controlling heart failure, including:
Q: How does heart failure affect other aspects of my child’s health?
A: It’s important to remember that your child’s heart failure is caused by an underlying condition. Your child’s doctor will explain to you how other aspects of her health may be affected depending on her specific situation, and discuss treatment options with you.
If your child’s heart failure is severe, other organs, such as the kidneys and liver, may be affected because of congestion or because the heart is not pumping enough blood to them.
Q: Will my child need a heart transplant? If so, when?
A: This depends on your child’s individual case. Some children may do quite well for months or years with oral medications. Others may need brief treatment with IV medications before switching to oral medications. If a child’s heart failure cannot be controlled with oral medications, they are evaluated for heart transplant. Some children may need a ventricular assist device (VAD) to support their heart function before a transplant. If your child’s doctors think that she may be a candidate for a heart transplant, we will explain the process fully to you. Read more about heart transplants.
After your child is diagnosed with heart failure, you may feel overwhelmed with information. It can be easy to lose track of the questions that occur to you.
Many parents find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise – that way, when you talk to your child’s doctors, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed. If your child is old enough, you may want to suggest that she write down what she wants to ask her health care provider, too.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Download our "Questions to ask your doctor when your child is diagnosed with heart failure" PDF.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”