Details About Symptoms of Heart Failure in Infants

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Taking care of an infant is no easy task for parents. It requires a lot of determination, patience, hard work and love. The baby’s health and well-being is of foremost importance to every parent so they should have knowledge on certain health related issues. In this way, they can spare every innocent child from the harshness and pain brought about by abnormal body conditions and diseases. Heart failure is one specific condition that infant or even newborn can be susceptible to. Learning and understanding the symptoms of heart failure in infants could help prolong their lives due to early detection and treatment. Know the causes, symptoms and treatment for this particular heart ailment.


The heart is the life maintaining organ that needs to function normally so as to promote infant’s growth and development. Its normal pumping function should be maintained to provide sufficient blood supply throughout the body to meet its metabolic demands. If the heart fails to function normally as it should then it is called “heart failure”. It should not be mistaken with “cardiac arrest” wherein it is characterized by complete and sudden cessation of all the heart activities and functions.


Heart failure in infants and children are usually brought about by heart defects at birth, diseases that can lead to heart damage, genetics and infection. Furthermore, heart failure can occur in either left or right side of the heart or both. There are 2 primary causes of heart failure namely “over-circulation failure” and “pump failure”.

Over-circulation Failure – is a condition wherein there’s an overloaded blood flow in one or more sections of the heart. This tends to interrupt the normal forward blood flow thus making the heart pump inefficiently.

Pump Failure – is a condition wherein the heart muscle is not capable and strong enough to pump the normal amount of blood mostly because of viral infection or defects during birth. This leads to irregular beating of the heart which is either too fast or too slow. With the inefficient and abnormal pumping of the heart, this leads to infant’s heart failure.


Primary symptoms of heart failure in infants are inability to thrive and poor growth. Other symptoms that parents and caregivers should watch out for are the following:

- Sweating while eating because of exhaustive labour involved

- Eating difficulty

- Constant fatigue that can result to excessive sleeping habits

- Rapid breathing

- Laboured breathing which is the result of fluid build-up in the lungs

Every parent should keenly observe these symptoms in infants because this is a progressive condition that can become fatal if left untreated.

Important Tip

Heart failure can happen to anyone. No matter how much you protect your baby, he is still susceptible to this ailment. Thus, to help prolong and save the life of your baby, have his medical condition checked by qualified physicians if you notice anything that’s not right with his condition. Remember that early detection means early treatment of the disease. And with the new medications, treatments and techniques available to cure heart failure, you may have your baby up and running around in no time.



American Heart Association

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center