Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Daughter's heart skipping beats during sleep?
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Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

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Daughter's heart skipping beats during sleep?

Our daughter (3) has been having problems with sleeping, waking up at night. Most night she ends up in bed with us, I noticed that as she sleeps her heart rate seems a bit erratic. It will speed up, then slow down, often seeming to pause or skip a beat. Is this normal during sleep? She has a past history of heart disease: VSD, ASD (both resolved), trivial tricuspid regurg, and as her pediatrician put it a barely 1/6 systolic murmur along left parasternal border.
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Most often when a parent appreciates an irregular heart rate during quiet sleep in a young child, it is a normal variant called "sinus arrhythmia".  This is a variable speeding up and slowing down of the heart rate and is associated with the breathing pattern.  If this occurs when your child is sleeping comfortably, and they are "pink" and have no labored breathing, it is likely not an issue.  However you can always mention it to your child's cardiologist:  they know her history and testing results best and can tell you if they feel any other evaluation is required.
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Jeffrey R Boris, M.D.Blank
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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