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7 Questions to Ask Your Pediatric Cardiologist

Referral to a pediatric cardiologist for the first time can be an unfamiliar experience, and parents want to know what to expect. Sibley Heart Center Cardiology physician Neill Videlefsky, MD, discusses the seven most asked questions of pediatric cardiologists and their answers.

What do pediatric cardiologists do? 

  • Diagnose and treat children with heart conditions
  • Work with patients antenatally (before birth), through childhood and into early adulthood (21 years old)
  • Transition care to adult congenital heart clinic if required 

What may be indications for cardiology referral? 

  • Family history of fainting, pacemakers, unexplained sudden death, inherited heart conditions or structural heart disease
  • History of palpitations
  • Chest pain during fainting spells or with exertion
  • Unexplained seizures
  •  Heart murmur
  • Concern for heart disease on primary care physical examination
  • Poor weight gain
  • Breathing difficulties with no obvious underlying lung condition
  • Blue skin discoloration
  • Genetic syndromes associated with heart problems 

What will happen at my first pediatric cardiologist visit?

  • A history will be taken.
    • Regarding current concern
    • Family history
    • Detailed physical examination
  • Investigations may be administered
    • EKG
    • Echocardiogram
    • Monitors

How do I prepare for a cardiology appointment with my child?

  • Have an age-appropriate discussion with your child regarding visit expectations
  • Younger children need to know that no painful or invasive procedures will be performed at the visit
  • Compile a personal and family health history and medication history
  • Bring test results
  • Prepare a list of questions that you would like addressed 

Can I be present with my child during the evaluation? 

  • We encourage parents to be with their child throughout the evaluation
  • Parents or guardians are very much part of the team in providing comfort and reassurance to the child and can play an important role in calming the child during procedures such as echocardiogram (parents may read books, sing or show videos etc. to help distract and calm child) 

What is an EKG?

  • A test that assesses conducting tissue (electrical signal from heart), heart rhythm, heart chamber enlargement and evidence for lack of blood flow to heart muscle or heart muscle strain or injury 

What is an echocardiogram? 

  • A test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart
  • Non-invasive and no radiation exposure
  • Provides exquisite information with respect to heart structure
  • Provides information with respect to heart function

For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.

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