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Why would my child be sent to a pediatric cardiologist?

Mark Sklansky, MD
Pediatric Cardiology
Any newborn, infant, young child or adolescent who presents with signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease may benefit from evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist. Clues to the presence of heart disease vary with a child’s age, but commonly include poor weight gain during the first year, increased work of breathing or sweating when fed or eating , blue spells, dizziness, loss of consciousness, chest pain or palpitations. A pregnant woman whose unborn child is at risk for congenital heart disease may benefit from referral to a pediatric cardiologist for detailed evaluation of the baby’s heart, even as early as 12-14 weeks gestation. Children with a strong family history of early onset atherosclerosis and heart disease may also benefit from evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist. Children diagnosed with Kawasaki’s disease, which can affect the coronary arteries in the heart, also may benefit from evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist. Asymptomatic children may be found by their pediatricians to be cyanotic (low oxygen levels), tachypneic (rapid breathing), tachycardic (rapid heart rate) or hypotensive (low blood pressure). Any of these findings may represent a sign of heart disease deserving further evaluation.

 
Pooja Desai, MD
Pediatric Cardiology
The most common reason why a child would be referred to a pediatric cardiologist is a heart murmur. If a pediatrician hears an extra sound in a baby’s heart, they’ll refer him to a pediatric cardiologist to listen to the heart and perform an echocardiogram to make sure there isn’t a heart defect. Other reasons a child would be referred to a pediatric cardiologist include chest pain, young athletes passing out on the field and kids complaining about hearts racing too fast or skipping a beat. A child with chromosomal abnormality or connective tissue disease that are known to be associated with heart defects may also be referred to a pediatric cardiologist.
If your doctor suspects your child may have been born with a heart defect or have acquired heart disease in some other way, he or she may refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist. The pediatric cardiologist may suggest tests to diagnose or rule out congenital (present at birth) or acquired heart disease. In some cases, these tests will be performed by a pediatric interventional cardiologist -- a cardiologist with additional training in diagnosing and treating conditions through the use of thin, flexible tubes called catheters that are guided through the body’s arteries and veins. Interventional cardiology procedures are less invasive than surgery, requiring only a small puncture site in the skin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.