Hi Doctor, My 5 year old son said that his heart was pounding today and it was! He said to feel his heart it was pounding. I felt it and iy was he was just sitting eating chips no exercise at all any ideas?
As pediatric cardiologists, we see pounding mean one of two things: the heart is beating hard or it is beating fast. We can see the heart beating hard if there is stress or if the child doesn’t drink enough fluid during the day. It can also happen in the face of an arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Beating fast at rest is often an arrhythmia, although it can also be dehydration as above. I find that adolescents tend to have more of the dehydration, but younger kids can have an arrhythmia as the cause of this sensation. If it has only occurred once, though, it may never happen again. If it is occurring more frequently, lasting at least 20 minutes, or giving him other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or passing out, he should definitely see a pediatric cardiologist for more evaluation. It would also be helpful to measure a pulse rate or a heart rate. If it is greater than 180 beats per minute at rest, this is probably more consistent with an arrhythmia. An easy way to measure a pulse rate is to count the number of pulsations in 6 seconds and multiply by 10
In the meantime, do make sure he is adequately hydrated—skim milk or water is best. We try to limit the juices and sodas (and chips, too!) because of the extra calories.
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