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What are some types of irregular heart rhythms in children?

Some abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, are fast, others are slow, and some are irregular.

Premature Atrial Contraction (PAC): The heart’s rhythm, or heartbeat, is created by natural electrical impulses that cause the heart’s chambers to contract. In premature atrial contraction (PAC), an impulse generated in the upper chambers (the atria) “fires” early. This can cause both chambers of the heart to beat earlier than normal (conducted PAC) or may result in the impulse not passing to the ventricles (blocked PAC). Both may result in an occasional irregular heart rhythm. PACs are generally considered to be benign in children.

Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC): In premature ventricular contraction (PVC), the ventricles (lower heart chambers) generate an early impulse that causes the heart to beat earlier than normal, resulting in irregularity in the heart rhythm. If they occur singly and only occasionally, PVCs are usually considered to be benign in children. They may be more prevalent after some types of heart surgeries, particularly if surgery involves the ventricles. In this situation, cardiologists will evaluate for the development of more serious ventricular arrhythmias.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF): In atrial fibrillation (AF), which is unusual in children, many sites within the heart’s upper chambers generate irregular electrical impulses to cause an irregular heartbeat. The electrical activity generated from the upper chambers is chaotic and irregular.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.