Paediatric Heart Failure

What is Paediatric Heart Failure?

The treatment of heart failure in children often depends on the cause of the underlying problem. Sometimes there are medical, surgical or catheter-based interventions that can be undertaken to either cure or reduce the symptoms of heart failure. Your child will be taken care of with a team that includes physicians, nurses, specialized dieticians who ensure optimal nutrition, and physical and occupational therapists who will provide assessments. Your child will be prescribed medicines to treat both the symptoms of heart failure and to improve or stabilize heart function. Child life specialists and social workers are available to help children and families dealing with the stress associated with a chronic illness. 

Treatment of Heart Failure in Children

The treatment of heart failure in children often depends on the cause of the underlying problem. Sometimes there are medical, surgical or catheter-based interventions that can be undertaken to either cure or reduce the symptoms of heart failure.  

For children whose heart failure symptoms worsen and they develop what is called “end-stage” heart failure, there may be the option to manage it using devices such as ICDs, or ventricular assist devices. They may also need heart transplantation.

Learn more about treatments such as ICDs and heart transplantation 

Transitioning to Adult Care

Making the move from a children’s to an adult hospital is a new and exciting chapter in your life. It can also be a time of uncertainty and sometimes fear. These feelings are normal. Your caregiver has likely played an important role in managing your health care so far, however, now is the time that you continue to take charge of your own health and become a more independent adult.

SickKids has a dedicated team of both paediatric and adult cardiologists alongside specialized paediatric cardiac nurses who will help guide you through this transition to the adult hospitals.  

What do we do? 

  • Increasing patient knowledge of their cardiac diagnosis, interventions, medical management and lifestyle choices (beginning at the age of 14 years old) 
  • Supporting patients in the development of their self-management and self-advocacy skills 
  • Providing virtual “meet and greet” opportunities for patients to connect with the adult healthcare team 

 How do we do this? 

  • How do we do this: By providing patients with nurse-lead 1:1 education sessions that are tailored, and developmentally appropriate for each patient. These sessions are available both in person and virtually
  • Continued support post transfer from paediatric to adult healthcare 

More Resources: 

CHF Clinical Program at SickKids

The Cardiomyopathy & Heart Function (CHF) program at Sickkids is the first and largest of its kind in Canada. The CHF program provides expertise in delivering both inpatient and outpatient care for children with all types of cardiomyopathies and those with congenital heart disease and end-stage heart failure.  

The CHF program runs regular interdisciplinary clinics each week specializing in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Friedrich’s Ataxia, surveillance for heart failure in those who have received cancer treatments, and a regular cardiomyopathy screening clinic for children with affected family members.  

The CHF team is multidisciplinary and works to optimize the health and quality of life for children with heart failure.

From a research standpoint, this program is at the forefront of innovation that include novel drug trials, multi-centre registry participation, advanced genomics and stem cell research, cardiac precision medicine, digital technology, and quality improvement efforts.