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Why does my child need to see a pediatric cardiologist?

If your pediatrician has recommended that your child see a cardiologist, he or she may suspect your child’s heart is not functioning normally. This could be because of a congenital heart problem, a defect that your child was born with, or an acquired issue caused by a disease, a genetic condition, or even a virus. Heart problems can be detected at any age, including prenatally.

Approximately 0.8% of children are born with a congenital heart defect (of varying severity). Other children develop heart disease, either due to genetics or acquired through infection. Learn more about detecting heart problems in children.

What conditions do pediatric cardiologists treat?

At McLane Children’s, we see children with a complete spectrum of heart disease that includes:

  • Congenital heart defects—These rare conditions keep your child’s heart from pumping normally. If a child’s heart does not develop normally during gestation, he or she will be born with a heart defect. Sometimes these conditions resolve themselves over time or do not produce symptoms, such as shortness of breath. In other cases, surgery is required to repair the defect. Ventricular septal defects and atrial septal defects are the most common.
  • Cardiovascular disease or heart disease—Due to the rise in obesity, children and teens today are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease than ever. Cholesterol, or fatty plaque, can build up in a child’s heart and vascular system—just like in an adult’s—and put him or her at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. At McLane Children’s, we treat heart disease in young patients and have started an aggressive research program to identify kids at risk of heart disease through the Children’s Cardiovascular Health Clinic.
  • Cardiomyopathy—Sometimes the muscles of the heart can be weakened through a viral infection or other condition. In these cases, the muscle cells often change shape. When this happens, the heart does not pump like it should. Pediatric cardiologists at McLaneChildren’s can help patients with medication, and sometimes implanted devices like pacemakers.

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