Visiting a Paediatric Cardiologist

Pediatric cardiologists are doctors who specialize in treating children with heart problems. In those children who require surgery, they work closely with the pediatric heart surgeon to ensure the best treatment.

Being told that you or your child might have a birth defect of the heart can be a very stressful situation. Remember that often the suspicion of a heart defect might turn out to be wrong and there might be nothing wrong with your or your child’s heart. Even if there is a problem with the heart it may be a minor problem in the majority of patients and may require no treatment or only oral medication. Make an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist as soon as you know that your child may have a heart problem.

What can you expect when you go to see the pediatric cardiologist?

          During your visit to the pediatric cardiologist, your child will be weighed and height will be measured. Observations including heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen level (oxygen saturation) will be carried out by the clinic nurse. The doctor will examine the child’s heart activity and then decide if further tests are needed.

          The tests that are commonly carried out include echocardiography (ultrasound scan of the heart), ECG or electrocardiography (electrical tracing of the heart’s activity), and chest x-ray. Occasionally the cardiologist may decide that cardiac catheterization is required to further define the problem.

Echo-cardiogram

An echo-cardiogram is an ultrasound scan of the heart (similar to the scan you may have had during pregnancy). This scan helps to look at the heart structure and identify heart defects. It is painless and totally non-invasive. Most children enjoy watching the picture of the heart on the monitor, they think it is like watching TV!

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Echo-cardiogram Illustration

Electrocardiogram

An Electrocardiogram involves placing some electrodes (knobs) on the chest which help to trace the heart's activity on paper. This is particularly useful when there is suspicion of a problem with heart rhythm.

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Electrocardiogram being performed

Once tests have been performed you may have to wait for the test results to come back. Sometimes the doctor may order further tests. Once results are received, the doctor will be able to explain the results to you, whether you have a heart problem or not. Depending on the heart problem, you may or may not need treatment or medications.

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Example of heart rhythm