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Normal heart rate in a child
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Normal heart rate in a child

My son is seven years old.  He suffers from mild reflux. He will complain sometimes that his heart hurts and that it is beating hard.  When you put your hand against his chest wall it feels like it is beating out of his chest, even though he is at rest.  His rate is ususally around 130 when this happens, but not always. One night he complained of his heart hurting and when I took his pulse it seemed to pause about every fourth beat.  His doctor feels that these problems are being caused by his reflux and that sometimes just by the way the child is breathing will make the heart rate feel like it is not a steady beat. He use to use albuterol when he was younger, but hasn't had to for the past 2 years. He is a slender built boy, so I'm sure his heart beat probably is more noticeable when I place my hand against his chest. My questions are:
1. What is a normal heart rate for a child at rest and with activity?
2.  Could reflux cause the heart to appear to be beating hard or to fast?
3.  Can a child's respirations affect the rhythm?
4.  Does the heart feel like it is beating harder when you place your hand against their chest as opposed to taking their pulse in their wrist?
5.  Do you feel this is something that should be furthered looked at by a cardiologist?
6.  How high should their rate become before it is a real concern?
He is a normally active boy and doesn't appear to be in any distress when this happens.  The night that he had trouble with his heart not beating steady he did complain of his throat feeling funny and that he felt like it was hard to breathe, but he did not appear to be having any trouble breathing.  He fell asleep and shortly after that his heart started beating without the pauses.  Thanks for any advice you can give me.
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Dear TLM,

1. What is a normal heart rate for a child at rest and with activity?
A: Children's heart rates are higher than adults and may run around 100 or so at rest and up to 200 or greater with exertion.

     2. Could reflux cause the heart to appear to be beating hard or to fast?
A: Reflux dosen't generally cause elevated heart rates that I am aware.  It may be possible that any discomfort associated with reflux could elevate the heart rate slightly.

     3. Can a child's respirations affect the rhythm?
A: Yes, there is an interaction with respiration and heart rate.  Generally inspiration increases the heart rate and expiration decreases the rate.

     4. Does the heart feel like it is beating harder when you place your hand against their chest as opposed to taking
     their pulse in their wrist?
A: Yes.

     5. Do you feel this is something that should be furthered looked at by a cardiologist?
A: This is hard to answer.  It would depend on the degree of expertise of his doctor and the degree of the problem.

     6. How high should their rate become before it is a real concern?
A: Again a hard question to answer.  As long as it is appropriately elevated it is not a problem.  If the elevation in heart rate is not appropriate for the situation it may need to be evaluated.
10 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
please allow me to attach to the above question.  i, too , would like to know a "normal"range for a childs' heartbeat.  but, i would also like to know if anyone could let me know what is a normal blood pressure reading for a child. preteen.  sorry to attach to  tlm's question, but if anyone, even a nurse, could answer this, it'd be appreciated.
gale
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TLM

Of course I am not a doctor, but when I was a little boy around 8 or 9 years old (I am 34 now)I use to tell my mom my heart beat felt fast sometimes.  She would just say don't worry about it honey.  Well, as a teenager in 1980 it was discovered I had SVT. To make a long story short, I suffered with it until last year when I had rf ablation done and it seems to have corrected the problem.  I would ask his doctor to put him on an event monitor for a month and see what it shows.  If it is SVT, it usually is not a real serious problem and there are ways to control and possibly cure it.  Whatever it is, a good EP doctor should be able to tell you.  Good luck.

Steve
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Avatar_n_tn
Have his thyroid checked too.  If its overactive he will have a hard and fast heartbeat.
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To Steve, what exactly is SVT and how did you find out you had it?  Thanks for your input
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TLM

Well, my understanding of svt is that it is like having an extra electrical pathway on your heart that controls the rate.  Sometimes, it may switch to that pathway and start beating fast. The fast rate starts as fast as you turn on a light switch.  My heart would go from 70 to 180 in the blink of an eye.  It would last for minutes to hours before it would switch back.  I was told that normally the condiiton was not life threatening, unless it went on for days and you did not seek medical treatment to have it slowed down.  I went to the ER on numerous times to have it slowed down through IV drugs.  I took medicaition to control it for years, but I was still having several episodes per year.  I decided on RF ablation to have it corrected for good.  They went up through my legs with caths and "mapped" my heart until they found it.  I was under sedation so it was no big deal.  After 3 hours they found the trouble spot and burned it.  No more svt now. It is a very common and very safe procedure that has been around for 10 years.  If your child had an event monitor, and it happened while he was wearing it, a good EP doctor could tell you if it is svt.  I hope this helps.

Steve
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Avatar_n_tn
if you cut out all coloured sweets and all soft drinks from your childs diet you will see a differant child within a week. dont feed him anything from a tin or bottle or packet. just feed him natural foods. regards jim.
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Jim,

You base this on what scientific evidence?  You don't even know what is wrong with her child because there has been no diagnosis? I seriously doubt tin is the answer.



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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for all your info.  You have been very helpful. We have an appt. with a gastro specialist to address the reflux and I am going to share with him my other concerns so that I can have him checked out for any cardio problems.  Would svt show up on a regular ekg or does it need to be caught on an event monitor?  Thanks again.
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Avatar_n_tn
TLM

If it is svt you would have to catch in the act.  Otherwise, the EKG would be normal.  That is why I had a "king of hearts" month long monitor.  I had it on during the day and took it off when I went to bed.  The only problem is the record only runs when you push the record button, so your son would have to know it is happening and push the button.  The memory in the monitor will start recording ten seconds prior to when the button is pushed.  This allows for the time it takes for you to feel the episode and push the button.  If this monitor is not appropriate for your son, I believe they have 24 and 48 hour monitors that record ongoing and do not require you to notice anything.  These monitors are actually more telling because they have many leads, which make it easier to determine if the episode is starting in the upper or lower chambers of the heart.  This will help determine what type of treatment is needed.  

Of course, maybe your son's heart is completely normal and no treatment will be needed.  I just wish my parents would have listed to me in the beginning when I told them what was going on. It was only after my mom was around and felt my heart beating about 190 while I was sitting still that I was taken to the ER.  The ER told my mom I probably had heart disease and sent me to a cardio doctor.  The cardio doctor said that was nonsense, and svt did not mean i had heart disease.  This was back in 1980, and there a lot more is known today about svt and other related problems.  Don't let your doctor ignore your concerns, and if needed go to one that will listen.  Good luck to you!!
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