Parents not always aware of precautions needed for children with heart conditions
When children have heart disease, it’s important for parents to know the name and nature of the condition. It’s also extremely important for parents to know whether the condition requires a child having certain medical procedures to receive antibiotics in order to prevent a serious infection called bacterial endocarditis, or BE.
In a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 65 parents of children with heart disease completed a survey while they were waiting for an outpatient appointment for their child. Fifty five percent of the children had had heart surgery and 18 percent were currently taking heart medication. But only 71 percent of the caregivers knew the name of their child’s heart problem. Additionally, 71 percent of parents in the study knew that their child needed medication for a dental visit, but they didn’t know that there are other types of procedures where medication is necessary as well.
There were 55 children in the study whose conditions required medication to prevent BE, but only 47 percent of their parents had heard of the infection.
If your child has a heart condition, be sure you know the name of it so you can inform other healthcare providers your child sees. Find out what procedures, including dental as well as others, meet the criteria for needing medication to prevent BE. Ask questions about your child’s condition until you’re confident that you know how to describe it using language that you understand. The more you know about your child’s heart problem, the better able you’ll be to provide vital information to the people who need to know.
Canadian Journal of Cardiology, April 2003.