Epidemiology of childhood heart failure in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

  • BE Otaigbe
  • PN Tabansi


Background: Heart failure (HF) is a clinical syndrome that complicates a variety of childhood illnesses. Recent studies in various parts of Nigeria show a prevalence rate of 5.8-15.5%. There is relatively scant data on heart failure in children in the south-south geo-political region of the country, necessitating this study.
Aim: To determine the epidemiology of HF in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital
Methods: A prospective study of consecutive children presenting with three of the four cardinal signs of HF (tachycardia, tachypnoea, tender hepatomegaly and cardiomegaly), over one year. Data sought included age, sex, underlying cause of HF and outcome.
Results: There were 1152 children admitted into the Children Emergency Ward (CHEW) during the period; 75 met the criteria for HF giving a prevalence rate of 6.5%. There were 39(52.0%) males and 36(48.0%) females. Their ages ranged from 1month to 11years. Common acute causes of HF were pneumonias 32(42.7%) and severe anaemia secondary to severe malaria 27(36.0%). Thirteen patients had underlying chronic diseases such as congenital heart diseases in 11(14.7%), sickle cell anaemia in 1(1.3%), and renal disease in 1(1.3%). Hospital stay ranged from 1 to 15 days. Six mortalities were recorded.
Conclusion: HF is a common complication of the emerging double burden of communicable and non-communicable childhood diseases in Nigeria and a potential contributor to mortality in these diseases. An up-scaling and sustenance of effective infectious disease control measures and screening and early detection of chronic diseases is necessary to avoid complications and preventable death in Nigerian children.

Keywords: Heart failure, Childhood, Epidemiology, Port Harcourt

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eISSN: 0795-3038