Heart failure is normally associated with either unhealthy adults or ailing seniors and rarely with children and teenagers. But the dangers of this condition are very real, and what’s unfortunate is that due to a lack of updated guidelines for some physicians, it’s not recognized or diagnosed until it’s too late.

MedicalNewsToday.com reports that in the recent Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society addressed the need to modernize existing heart failure guidelines for specialists and emergency medical teams who are usually the first people parents and children turn to whenever they're faced with inexplicable symptoms.

Dr. Paul F. Cantor, Head of Pediatric Cardiology at the Stollery Children's Hospital in the University of Alberta, explains how this possibly fatal condition could be mistaken for another. "Often, children are brought to the emergency room with shortness of breath and some cough and are thought to have asthma, when in fact they have very severe heart failure. The clues of a very unusually fast heart rate and low blood pressure are sometimes overlooked and these children will be sent home with a 'puffer' for their breathing problems, which are actually due to heart failure," he shares.

As parents, it is important to know the early warning signs of heart failure. Some symptoms are shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, heart muscle disease, and viral infection of the heart muscle (which may be present in children with abdominal pain and have poor signs of blood circulation). If you notice any or all of this in your child, immediately seek medical help.

(Photo by Tracie Lee via Flickr Creative Commons; used for illustrative purposes only)

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