What is Pediatric Cardiology?

Pediatric cardiology is the diagnosis and treatment of children with heart conditions.

Pediatric cardiology centers on the diagnosis and treatment of children with heart conditions. Pediatric cardiologists work with children from before birth or infancy through childhood and even into adulthood to deliver the most advanced medical care.

What is a Pediatric Cardiologist?

A pediatric cardiologist diagnoses, treats and can help manage a vast range of conditions that affect the heart, including myocarditis, complex heart defects, high cholesterol, and congenital heart disease.

Children could be impacted by numerous heart problems. Some babies are born with structural defects. A pediatric cardiologist focuses on treating these heart defects.

Though not typically common, heart ailments among children under 18 years old are rising at a disturbing rate. These could be due to numerous factors, including:

  • Drinking and smoking by the mother while pregnant
  • Genetics
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Viral infection during the first three months of pregnancy

Heart conditions in children can take an array of forms, from minor ailments that could be treated with medication, to ones that could necessitate surgery. A pediatric cardiologist will work closely with a primary care pediatrician to deliver comprehensive care.

Heart problems in children are quite different from that in adults. It is common for children to be diagnosed with congenital heart defects. 

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are the most diagnosed birth defect. The deficiencies interfere with the heart’s structure such as the arteries, veins, and valves. 

Congenital heart defects also affect how blood pumps through the heart. A pediatric cardiologist treats congenital heart defects that usually develop before birth, helping to evaluate and manage risk pregnancies. Early detection of these congenital heart conditions allows for timely care.

Common Pediatric Heart Conditions

There are several different heart conditions. Some of the typical pediatric cardiac conditions include:

  • Abnormal heartbeat (dysrhythmia)
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Double outlet right ventricle
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Hypoplastic right heart syndrome
  • Interrupted aortic arch
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Pulmonary atresia
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Single ventricle
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Ventricular septal defect

How are Pediatric Heart Conditions Diagnosed?

A pediatric cardiology specialist is skilled in treating many pediatric heart conditions. Along with your child’s pediatrician, they will develop a plan specific to your child’s distinct needs.  Diagnostic tests your child’s doctor could perform include:

  • Stress test – This test monitors your child’s heart
  • Echocardiogram – A device is put on your child’s chest and sound waves are used to make a video of their heart working.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) – This test uses little sensors to record the heart’s electrical activity.
  • Chest X-ray – A chest x-ray lets the physician see the condition of your child’s heart.
  • Imaging tests – Your child’s physician may get an X-ray, an ultrasound, or an in-depth computed tomography scan to get an accurate look at your child’s heart.

If your child is diagnosed with a heart defect, get in touch with us for support and as a resource to learn about treatment options.

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