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  • Doctors report details of rare spasm-caused heart attacks in children
  • Oct. 01, 2007
  • CHICAGO - Beth Meter is a cardiac nurse who has seen plenty of heart attacks, so when her son complained of sudden crushing chest pain that spread to his arm, she was certain he was having one.
  • Doctors at first didn't believe her. That's because her son had just turned 13.
  • A report from Ohio doctors documenting nine cases over 11 years in kids as young as 12 says heart attacks in children are a rare but under-recognized problem.
  • For Beth's son, Dan, it took a month to see a specialist who confirmed the diagnosis. Luckily, 1½ years later, the Strongsville, Ohio, teen is on heart medicine but is doing well.
  • "Pediatricians need to understand that this is a true and real condition," Mrs. Meter said. "Don't just push aside any kid that's complaining of chest pain."
  • Dan Meter was among children included in a report by Drs. John Lane and Giora Ben-Shachar at Akron Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio. All were stricken between 1995 and 2006 and most were treated at the Akron hospital. Lane treated a few of the earlier patients when he was at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.
  • All lacked common risk factors for heart problems, such as obesity, family history, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and drug abuse.
  • The cause of their heart attacks was most likely a heart spasm that briefly cut off blood supply, Lane said. It is also a rare cause of heart attacks in adults.
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