• The Heart House

Chest Pain

Hearing your child complain of chest pain is undoubtedly frightening! Fortunately, the majority of causes of chest pain in children and young adults is rarely due to the heart. Many people think that when a child is complaining of chest pain, that he or she may be having a heart attack. Although this is one of the first things we think of when an adult has chest pain, this fortunately rarely happens with kids. The following is a list of potential heart and non-heart related causes of chest pain in children and young adults:

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The following information is intended for informational uses only and may not necessarily be pertinent to your child's medical condition. Therefore, this information shall not be intended to serve as a substitute for the trained clinical judgment of your providing physician.  

Heart Murmurs

“Murmur” is simply a name given to an extra sound we hear when listening to someone's heart. A murmur heard in a child or young adult most often means something completely different than a murmur heard in an older adult. In children, a murmur most often results from the way that blood is flowing through an otherwise normal heart. There are several names given to this type of murmur: “innocent”, “functional”, “physiologic” murmur, all of which means that the structure/make-up of the heart is normal.

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High Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that looks like smashed wax. It is present mainly in animal fats. You find it mainly in the fat marble between the meat strips in a steak.

What is the use of Cholesterol?

The body uses cholesterol to build cell membranes. It is also used in small quantities to build certain hormones such as steriod and sex hormones.

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“Palpitations” is defined as “the awareness of one’s own heart beat”. 

We are not typically aware of our heart beating. In fact, there are so many functions that the human body performs every minute of every day that we are not aware of. Having to think about each and every one would result in information overload! Sometimes, however, something happens that makes us aware.  For instance, when we become startled, feel anxious, feel frightened, feel happy, or feel sad, we sometimes become aware of our heart beating differently. This most often happens because the heart is simply responding to something in it’s environment. In fact, the nervous system (ie, the brain) and the heart are in constant communication. For instance, if we were being attacked by an angry dog, our brain sends a signal to our heart to beat faster and stronger to supply more blood to our muscles so that we can escape danger.  

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"Syncope" is the medical term for passing out, fainting, or losing consciousness - all are synonymous. There are several reasons for a patient to experience syncope. 

Some reasons may be related to the heart (i.e., the heart is the primary cause). Other reasons are unrelated to the heart (i.e., secondary causes). 

  • Primary, or heart-related causes of syncope include changes in one's heart rhythm (arrhythmias), problems with the heart valves, or problems with the heart muscle itself (i.e., cardiomyopathy).
  • Secondary causes of syncope include vasovagal syncope, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome / autonomic dysfunction ("dysautonomia"), and rarely, seizures.

Read more: Syncope

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Children's Heart Institute

P. O. Box 10066 McLean, VA 22102

Central Registration (patient appointments):

phone - 703-481-5801

Billing Inquiries:

phone - 571-612-2600 /  fax - 571-266-4096