What Is A Pediatric Cardiologist?

November 01, 2023
Pediatric cardiologists are heart doctors who work with children. Their practice is different from that of heart doctors who treat adults. Pediatric cardiologists primarily treat problems with a child’s heart's structure or rhythm.

What Does A Pediatric Cardiologist Do?

Pediatric cardiologists look for heart issues using tools such as echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and imaging tests. They look for problems in the heart's formation or in the way it beats. Children may see a pediatric cardiologist if they have issues such as chest pain, dizziness, or fainting, and the doctor rules out heart issues. Pediatric cardiologists treat children with both congenital (present from birth) and acquired heart problems.  Like other pediatricians, they normally see children until the age of 18 or sometimes 21.

Reasons To See A Pediatric Cardiologist

Reasons why your child might need to see a pediatric cardiologist include:

Critical Congenital Heart Defects 

Around 40,000 American children are born each year with a congenital heart defect (CHD). About a quarter of CHDs are serious. Often a baby with a CHD needs surgery in the first year of life. Doctors diagnose some heart problems when the baby is still in the womb, usually using a technique called fetal echocardiogram. Other cardiac issues aren't diagnosed until after a baby is born, sometimes later.

Other Congenital Heart Defects

Some CHDs aren’t considered critical. For example, small atrial and ventricular septal defects, commonly known as hole-in-the-heart defects, may never cause problems and may close up on their own. Larger ones are more likely to need surgery.

Genetic Conditions With Cardiac Involvement

Several genetic syndromes typically include heart problems. Among these are Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Williams syndrome. Children with these syndromes are likely to need a pediatric cardiologist.


Arrhythmias are disorders of the electrical system that makes the heart beat. They involve a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, or irregular. Some arrhythmias, like premature contractions, are common and usually not serious. Others can be serious and may need treatments including medication or an implanted device such as a pacemaker. SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia) is one of the more common arrhythmias seen in children).

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