Does rsv cause increased heart rate?

If you’ve ever had a child with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, then you know how terrifying it can be. The coughing, the wheezing, and the difficulty breathing are all enough to make any parent want to pull their hair out (metaphorically speaking, of course). But one question that may have crossed your mind is whether or not RSV causes an increased heart rate. Let’s take a closer look (don’t worry we won’t get too close).

What is RSV?

RSV is a highly contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract of children and infants. It’s most common in infants under six months old but can affect anyone at any age. Symptoms typically include:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever

In more severe cases, RSV can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia.

Can RSV cause an increased heart rate?

Yes! One of the lesser-known symptoms of RSV is an increased resting heart rate. This means that even when your little bundle of joy isn’t running around like a Tasmanian devil (which let’s be real is basically never) their heart could still be beating faster than it should be.

How does RSV cause an increased heart rate?

The exact mechanism behind why RSV causes an elevated heartbeat isn’t fully understood yet (hey scientists need job security too!) . However, some studies suggest that it may have something to do with inflammation in the body from fighting off the infection.

When our bodies are infected with anything (a cold…an enemy spy implanted within us) they respond by releasing inflammatory mediators such as cytokines or prostaglandins which help fight off the invading pathogen (just imagine white blood cells chasing down germs while holding laser guns – this is not scientifically accurate…obviously). These mediators can also affect the heart by increasing its rate and strength.

Can an increased heart rate from RSV be dangerous?

In most cases, an elevated heartbeat caused by RSV isn’t anything to worry about. (phew!) It should return to normal once your little one has beaten the virus into submission (cue Rocky music here…or Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” if you prefer).

However, in some rare cases, an abnormally fast heartbeat (a condition called tachycardia) can lead to more serious complications such as impaired cardiac function or even heart failure. These situations are extremely rare and typically only occur in children with pre-existing cardiac conditions.

How can I tell if my child’s heartbeat is elevated due to RSV?

The best way to monitor your child’s resting heart rate when they have RSV is through a pulse oximeter. This handy device clips onto their finger or toe and reads their oxygen saturation levels as well as their pulse.

Most healthy kids will have a resting heartrate between 70-100 beats per minute while awake but relaxed (note: this could vary based on age so make sure you check out reliable sources for information on what appropriate rates are for different ages) . If your child consistently shows a resting BPM of over 100-110 during times of rest then it might be time to see a paediatrician for further evaluation.

Other signs that may indicate abnormal cardiovascular function:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness/weakness/fatigue/lightheadedness

If there are any concerns regarding your child’s health during a respiratory illness like RSV don’t hesitate to seek medical attention (better safe than sorry – we’re parents…that’s just who we are) .


While an elevated heart rate due to RSV may be slightly concerning, it’s usually harmless and should resolve on its own. Keeping an eye on your child’s resting heart rate during recovery can help ensure that everything is returning to normal (and will also give you a badge in parental heroism). Barring any pre-existing cardiac conditions or rare complications like tachycardia, there’s no need to worry about RSV causing any lasting damage.

So sit back, relax (as much as anyone with a sick kid can) and let your little one battle it out against the evil virus while singing “let it go” from Frozen at the top of their lungs (not doctor recommended but definitely fun for everyone).

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