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4 San Diego Children Developed Heart Infection From Swine Flu

Four San Diego County children developed heart infections after contracting swine flu, killing one of them, according to a study by Rady Children's Hospital physicians.

The cases of three children who survived were not publicly disclosed until they appeared in an online version of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, although the Oct. 10 death of 5-year-old Alitza Ortiz Sanchez of Chula Vista after she contracted the H1N1 virus was widely reported by local media.

Heart infections from strains of influenza are rare. A more common complication of swine flu is respiratory failure from fluid buildup in the lungs.

Two girls, ages 3 months and 9 months, became ill with swine flu, then suffered heart failure and spent a week on a heart-lung machine in October, according to Dr. Andras Bratincsak, the lead author of the Rady study, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

A 9-year-old boy also was diagnosed with a milder form of the condition known as myocarditis.

Cardiac specialists quoted by the Union-Tribune said doctors who are not expecting to find a heart infection in patients with swine flu may not recognize symptoms, which may include chest pain and irregular heartbeat.

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