Compared with adults, cardiac emergencies are infrequent in children and clinical presentation is often quite variable. In adults, cardiac emergencies are most commonly related to complications of coronary artery disease; however, in pediatric cases, the coronaries are only rarely the underlying problem. Pediatric cardiac emergencies comprise a range of pathology including but not limited to undiagnosed congenital heart disease in the infant; complications of palliated congenital heart disease in children; arrhythmias related to underlying cardiac pathology in the teenager and acquired heart disease. The emergency room physician and pediatric intensivist will usually be the first and second lines of care for pediatric cardiac emergencies and thus it is imperative that they have knowledge of the diverse presentations of cardiac disease in order to increase the likelihood of delivering early appropriate therapy and referral. The objective of this review is to outline cardiac emergencies in the pediatric population and contrast the presentation with adults.
Keywords: Aortic dissection; Kawasaki disease; arrhythmias; cardiomyopathies; congenital heart disease; myocarditis; pediatric cardiac emergencies; pulmonary embolism; sudden cardiac death.