6 Things to Know About Your Child's Pacemaker

A pediatric cardiologist might recommend a pacemaker if your child has a heart defect that prevents their heart from beating normally.

Doctors at Pediatric Cardiology Center of Oregon can evaluate your child for heart rhythm disorders and care for those who have a pacemaker. Dr. Marc D. LeGras, who joined our group in 1996, specializes in conditions treated with a pacemaker. Our physicians treat patients who need a pediatric cardiologist in Portland. We also work in locations around Oregon and Southwest Washington. Please contact us for more information about making an appointment for your child.

6 of hearts

1. What Is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is an electronic device. Surgeons implant them under the skin. The pacemaker regulates an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. A battery provides power. The device monitors the heart's natural electrical signal and can also send a signal to aid the heart to beat properly.

 

The surgeon might position a pacemaker for an infant or child under the skin near the abdomen. There, fatty tissue offers protection from the rough and tumble of a child's activities. Pacemakers for teens and adults are usually placed near the collarbone.

2. How Do Doctors Monitor a Pacemaker?

After inserting a pacemaker, pediatric cardiologists check your child thoroughly and continue to monitor the pacemaker during office visits. During checks, the cardiologist may take an x-ray or perform other tests. Parents can also check the pacemaker from home. The pacemaker keeps a record that you can send to doctors by phone or over the internet. Your doctor will make sure you understand how to check the pacemaker remotely.

3. Can My Child Play Normally With a Pacemaker?

Many children with pacemakers live a normal, healthy life. Restrictions depend on your child's health. Most kids with heart defects that are being managed by a cardiologist can play, take gym class and participate sports. Your pediatrician may recommend avoiding contact sports. Many other physical activities, such as soccer, swimming, bicycling and more are enjoyed by kids with pacemakers.

4. How Long Does a Pacemaker's Battery Last?

The battery will last for years as will the pacemaker itself. Battery life depends on whether the pacemaker makes each heartbeat or only needs to make a beat periodically. A low battery will show during regularly scheduled checks.

5. What Devices Interfere With a Pacemaker?

Your child's heart doctor will provide you with information about devices that could interfere with a pacemaker. Pacemaker technology has advanced, and things that used to interfere with the devices, such a microwave ovens, today are safe. Your cardiologist will advise you about what types of machinery to avoid.

6. Can My Child go Through a Metal Detector?

Yes, it's OK to pass through a metal detector. If the detector sounds an alarm, inform security that your child has a pacemaker.  Don't allow security personnel to pass the detector wand over the pacemaker. Make sure your child wears a medical bracelet that indicates they have an implanted device.

 

What is an echocardiogram?

 

echocardiogram pediatric cardiology

When you’ve been told there’s something abnormal with your child’s heart, just about the only thing you’re thinking about is finding out the cause of the abnormality and treating it as soon as possible. There is a multitude of heart-related medical tests to narrow down possible ailments, but one of the least invasive and effective procedures is called an echocardiogram.  

Read more: What is an echocardiogram?

Help Kids Overcome Their Fear of Doctor Visits

smiling childNo matter how kind and welcoming a doctor’s office is, it can be a pretty scary place for your little ones. Some children associate a medical office with needle pricks, scary noises, strange sights and weird smells. If your child is afraid of going to see the doctor, here are some ways that you can help your kids overcome their fear.

Read more: Help Kids Overcome Their Fear of Doctor Visits

Using 3D-printed hearts as surgical practice

3d printed hearts practice for heart surgeonsThe most common birth defects in the world are unfortunately some of the most dangerous to babies. Congenital heart defects affect about 40,000 babies in the U.S. and Canada. The procedures to repair heart defects can range from simple to incredibly complex and potentially dangerous. However, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children has an idea for how to practice delicate heart surgeries before opening up a baby’s chest.

Read more: Using 3D-printed hearts as surgical practice

What is congenital heart disease?

congenital heart disease common questionsCongenital heart disease is found in 8 out of every 1,000 newborn babies every year, and close to one million adults live with mild to severe congenital heart disease in the United States today. Congenital heart disease (also called a congenital heart defect), can present a range of symptoms, from fatigue and poor respiration to heart failure.

With the advances in modern medicine, however, congenital heart defects are easier to detect than ever, and can be treated through medication, internal stents, or open heart surgery. In some mild cases, the congenital heart defects will repair themselves or do not cause enough of an issue to need treatment.

Read more: What is congenital heart disease?

What causes pediatric chest pain?

Children running around outside.

Chest pain is very common in children and teenagers.  In 94-99% of cases there is no underlying disease causing it and there is nothing wrong with the heart. In fact, the pain is not even coming from the heart.  The pain is real; kids are not “faking” the pain.

Read more: What causes pediatric chest pain?

What is Orthostatic Hypotension?

green heart beat graphic 

Orthostatic hypotension is also known his postural hypotension and commonly known as a “head rush”.  It is a situation that is quite common in both pediatrics and adults.  It occurs when a person stands up from a sitting-down or lying-down position and the effect of gravity on the body causes about a half of a liter of blood to shift from the upper to the lower part of the body. 

Read more: What is Orthostatic Hypotension?

What is Vasovagal Syncope?

Vasovagal syncope or neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS) is caused by a drop in blood pressure, quickly followed by faster then slower heart rate resulting in poor blood and oxygen flow to the brain which results in temporary loss of consciousness. Neurocardiogenic syncope is also referred to as neurally mediated syncope. It is also called fainting.

Read more: What is Vasovagal Syncope?

What is a Heart Murmur?

If you have heard the doctor say the words “heart murmur”, you might wonder what that means exactly. 

anatomical heart with ekg pulse

Read more: What is a Heart Murmur?