Management of cardiac emergencies in children

Minerva Pediatr. 2009 Apr;61(2):163-73.


Children with heart disease may present to the Emergency Department in many stages of life, with a range of cardiovascular manifestions, from minimally irritating palpitations to the life-threatening derangements of shock or lethal dysrhythmia. Cardiac emergencies are rare in children in comparison to adults. The pathophysiology differs: ischemic heart disease is virtually unknown, whereas most cases occur secondary to congenital heart disease. Their successful management requires an accurate diagnosis and timely interventions to achieve optimal outcomes in this heterogeneous and complex patient population. The diagnosis, however, is not always straightforward, as evidenced by the non-specific clinical picture that can be presented by pediatric heart diseases. This article reviews pertinent issues concerning diagnosis and management of cardiac disorders with which children present to the emergency department. The initial diagnostic and specific therapeutic approach to these patients will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Child
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Endocarditis / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / therapy
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Heart Diseases / therapy*
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Tachycardia / etiology