Inherited Heart Conditions in Children | Pediatrics


Inherited Heart Conditions in Children

Certain types of heart conditions are genetic — meaning that children inherit them from their parents. Our pediatric cardiologists are experts at detecting and treating these conditions to keep your child healthy.

Medically reviewed by Jonathan Gil Dayan, M.D. on March 08, 2024.

Male health care provider listening to girl’s heart with stethoscope.

Pediatric Heart Experts to Care for Inherited Heart Conditions

Early detection and treatment of inherited heart conditions is important. At the UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center, our cardiologists work with you and your child to find the right treatment.

We provide a range of advanced therapies — and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child’s heart is in good hands.

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What Are Inherited Heart Conditions?

Some heart conditions are related to your genes. A parent can pass down the condition to their child. In some cases, the parent may not even know that they have the condition.

Many inherited heart conditions have no symptoms, but some can be life-threatening.

We’re experts at helping children with inherited heart conditions, including: 

  • Arrhythmias: Irregular heart rhythms
  • Cardiomyopathy: Diseases that can affect the heart muscle function or electrical conduction
  • Congenital heart defects: Structural defects in the heart that develop before birth
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia: A genetic cause of high cholesterol that can lead to heart attacks at a young age
  • Heart problems related to genetic conditions: Certain inherited conditions — such as Marfan syndrome or Down syndrome — can affect your child’s heart function.

Symptoms of Inherited Heart Conditions in Children

In many cases, your child won’t experience any symptoms from an inherited heart condition. But there are some symptoms that various heart disorders have in common.

Common Symptoms

Talk to your pediatrician if you or your child notice any symptoms of a heart condition, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations

Emergency Symptoms

In rare cases, some inherited heart conditions can lead to a sudden stop in heartbeat and breathing during physical activity. Seek medical help immediately if your child experiences:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • Seizure
  • Fainting


Most genetic heart conditions pass on through autosomal dominant inheritance. That means a child only needs one copy of the altered gene to inherit the condition. If one parent has a genetic heart condition, their child has a 50% chance of inheriting it.


Diagnosing Inherited Heart Conditions

If you are aware of any heart conditions that run in your family, talk to your child’s pediatrician. They can determine what tests to do and alert you of symptoms to watch out for.

If your child developed a heart condition before birth, your provider may detect it during a pregnancy ultrasound. For older children, your pediatrician may find a heart anomaly during a routine exam. Other tests we use to diagnose genetic heart conditions include: 

  • Bloodwork: A blood test can measure electrolytes and protein levels. It also tests for genetic markers.
  • Echocardiogram: This test looks at the heart’s structure and function.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test measures the heart’s electrical activity.
  • MRI: This scan provides detailed images of the heart’s structure.

Treatments for Inherited Heart Conditions in Children

Treatment depends on the type of heart condition your child has inherited and also its severity. Some conditions may not require treatment. For example, certain heart defects in children get better on their own.

If your child does need treatment, the UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center offers exceptional care for infants, children and teens. Some inherited heart conditions may require long-term monitoring and care. Our pediatric heart experts are here to support you and your child throughout treatment.

Depending on their condition, your child may receive:


Various medications can help improve heart function, restore normal heart rhythms or lower cholesterol. In most cases, your child’s doctor will prescribe medication before recommending more invasive treatments.

Implantable Devices

Pacemakers or implantable defibrillators can help treat arrhythmias or cardiomyopathy.


Our pediatric cardiovascular surgeons have the expertise necessary to perform complex heart surgeries in infants and children. After surgery, your child will spend time recovering in our pediatric and cardiac intensive care unit (PICU).

Who does it affect?

1 in 200People have an inherited heart condition

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