Heart Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances and Irregular Heartbeat in Children)

Nemours Cardiac Center at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803 | Get Map & Directions »

Children’s heart conditions can’t be prevented, but a lot can be done to improve and often completely repair their hearts at any age. Thanks to advanced technology and the pediatric heart experts at the Nemours Cardiac Center (based at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children), most children with a heart problem — even newborns only hours or days old — can be quickly diagnosed and treated right when it matters the most. At the Cardiac Center, we specialize in early detection and repair.

When it comes to heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm disturbances and irregular heartbeat in children), we’re here to ease your concerns, answer your questions, and give your child the best possible chance for a healthy future.

What Is it?

A heart arrhythmia is an irregular or abnormal heart rhythm usually caused by an electrical “short circuit” in the heart (also called “dysrhythmia” or a “rhythm disorder”). The heart normally beats in a consistent pattern, but an arrhythmia can make it beat too slowly, too quickly or irregularly. This can cause the heart muscle’s pumping function to work unpredictably, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness and chest pain.

Congenital arrhythmias are sometimes due to a birth defect of the heart, but some happen (for no apparent reason) even when the heart formed normally. Many arrhythmias aren’t harmful and don’t require any treatment at all. However, some can pose a health problem and need to be evaluated and treated by a doctor.

How Does the Heart Normally Work?

When your child has a congenital heart defect, there’s usually something wrong with the structure of the heart. In order to understand your child’s condition, it can help to know how the heart should work normally.
Learn More About Normal Cardiac Anatomy »

Nemours’ experts at KidsHealth.org also offer these helpful resources to help both you and your child understand how the heart works:

How & When Is It Diagnosed & Treated?

Our Nemours Cardiac Center specialists diagnose and manage all heart rhythm disturbances (heart rhythm disturbances and irregular heartbeat) in children. Sometimes this may involve a specialized medication to control an abnormal rhythm until a child outgrows it. In other cases, we use tests such as an electrophysiology (or “EP”) study (stimulation and mapping of the heart’s electric pathways) and radiofrequency ablation (heat), or cryoablation (cold) to diagnose a rhythm and permanently cure it.

We perform electrophysiology studies in our specialized, state-of-the-art catheterization and electrophysiology suite (also called the “Catheterization Lab” or “Cath Lab”) to assess arrhythmias and figure out the best ways to treat them.

Our Cardiac Center cardiologists and surgeons are experienced in inserting pacemakers and implantable defibrillators to provide a safety net for children with life-threatening heart rhythm disorders. Our cardiologists use studies such as EKG and mobile heart monitoring to evaluate children with fainting, chest pain and palpitations.

Through specialized clinics, we offer general arrhythmia diagnosis and management, as well as specific diagnosis and care for patients with:

  • postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (or “POTS”), which can cause something called, “orthostatic intolerance” (or “OI”) — when far too little blood returns to the heart after a person stands up from a lying down position. The OI can lead to lightheadedness or fainting, as well a rapid increase in heartbeat.
  • inherited arrhythmias, which are arrhythmias that are passed down from generation to generation

Our Nemours Cardiac Center specialists see arrhythmia patients at our main location within our outpatient services office at duPont Hospital for Children, as well as at many of our satellite locations.

When it comes to heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm disturbances and irregular heartbeat in children), know that at the Nemours Cardiac Center we’re here to give your child the very best, most comprehensive and compassionate care. Our goal is to guide your family, from start to finish, through your child’s heart disease journey — and to help your child live the healthiest, most fulfilling life possible.

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Why Choose Us

From our outcomes to our family-centered care, find out all of the reasons why your child’s heart will be in good hands at the Nemours Cardiac Center. Learn More »

Make an Appointment

(800) 416-4441

Insurance We Accept »

Information for Patients

Outpatient Services and Inpatient Units: (302) 651-6660

After 5 p.m. and Weekends:

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit: (302) 651-6644
General Inpatient Unit, 2B: (302) 651-6690


+1 (302) 651-4993

Dalton's Story

Meet Dalton who, starting at age 8, occasionally complained to his parents that "my heart's beating really fast." Read His Story »

View All Cardiac Patient Stories »