Medications for Your Child's Heart Problems

When your child has a heart problem, he or she may need medicine to manage it. And you might have concerns.

At the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we'll always give you detailed instructions for giving your child their meds. But we also offer some tips as part of our Family Guide to Your Child's Heart Care.

And if you have questions, please talk with your child's doctors or nurses.

Tips for Giving Your Child Heart Medicine

Here's a list of things to keep in mind when giving your child drugs for their heart condition.

  • Never mix medicine with food or liquids unless the doctor or nurse tells you to do so. If your child doesn't eat or drink all of it, you won't know how much medicine they received.
  • In trying to convince your child to take their heart medicine, be careful not to call it candy. You don't want them to mistake drugs for candy at another time.
  • If your child takes a few meds at different times, it may be hard to recall if you gave the right doses. To help avoid mistakes, make a checklist with the drug name, dose, and time your child should take it. Then, when you give your child a drug, check it off on the sheet.
  • If your child misses a dose or vomits after taking a dose of medicine, it's ok. Just give the regular dose at the next scheduled time. Never try to make up for a missed dose by giving a double dose or more than your doctor prescribed. If your child misses two or more doses, call your doctor.
  • When traveling, keep medicine in a labeled bottle.
  • Always fill prescriptions before you run out.
  • Keep medicine out of the reach of small children. An accidental overdose may cause serious health problems or even death.

Daily Meds for Your Childs Heart Problem

Congenital heart disease

The most common medicines for children born with heart problems are digoxin (Lanoxin®) and Lasix® (furosemide).

Digoxin makes the heart pump more efficiently and slows the heart rate.

Lasix helps the kidneys remove extra fluid from the body, which increases the heart's ability to pump effectively.

Heart rhythm issues

There are a few different drugs doctors can use to treat irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). These include quinidine, digoxin, or amiodarone.

Other heart conditions

If rheumatic fever or an infection caused your child's heart problem, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or aspirin.

Antibiotics to Prevent Subacute Bacterial Endocarditis (SBE)

SBE is a slow-forming infection in the heart's lining or valves. It occurs when bacteria enter the blood.

Children with heart disease are at an increased risk of SBE during certain procedures, such as dental cleaning or surgery.

But antibiotics before these procedures (SBE prophylaxis) can help prevent SBE.

Who needs SBE prophylaxis?

  • All unoperated congenital heart defects except uncomplicated atrial septal defects.
  • Rheumatic and other acquired heart valve problems.
  • After heart surgery. Exceptions: Kids with no residua six months after a pacemaker implant, heart transplant, or septal defect or patent ductus arteriosus repair.
  • Any child who had SBE before, even in the absence of underlying heart disease.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation and/or thickened leaflet.

When should my child take antibiotics to prevent SBE?

Dental work that likely causes bleeding.


  • Tooth extraction.
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Drilling.

No antibiotics

  • Shedding of primary teeth.
  • Adjusting orthodontic appliances.
  • Surgery or invasive procedures.

Surgery or invasive procedures.


  • Any surgical or invasive procedure involving the GI tract, reproductive organs, and urinary system.
  • Incision and drainage of infected tissue.

No antibiotics

  • Endoscopy without biopsy.
  • Urethral catheterization in the absence of infection.
  • Hernia repair.
  • Circumcision and cuts that don't need stitches.

Surgery on the mucus lining of the nose, throat, or lungs.


  • Bronchoscopy using a rigid scope.
  • Tonsillectomy.
  • Adenoidectomy.

No Antibiotics

  • Endotracheal tubes.
  • Myringotomy tubes

Contact the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's

For the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, call 412-692-5540.

Or find UPMC Children's heart care near you.