Pediatric cardiology is a medical specialty that addresses the diseases and disorders of the heart in children.
What is it?
Pediatric cardiology addresses the diseases and disorders of the heart. Pediatric cardiologists diagnose and treat complications of the heart. Specifically, pediatric cardiologists use special imaging techniques to assess a child’s heart for changes in blood flow, blood pressure, deformities and other irregularities. While cardiologists will tend to use medications to treat heart problems, they will at times perform minor procedures on the heart, in the case of heart complications, that help unblock arteries and allow the heart to beat effectively.
What are the subspecialties?
Pediatric cardiology is a branch of internal medicine. Pediatric cardiologists might consult other specialists to develop comprehensive approaches to a child’s heart health. Subspecialties associated with pediatric cardiology include electrophysiology, fetal cardiology, exercise physiology and preventive cardiology.
What are the commonly associated medical diseases or procedures?
Common medical diseases treated by pediatric cardiologists include but are not limited to congenital heart defects, muscle disorders, irregular rhythms, and high blood pressure. A child might need to see a pediatric cardiologist if he or she experiences chest pain, chest discomfort, irregular heartbeat, heightened heart rate, severe dizziness, or intense feelings of restlessness.
What are the commonly associated medical procedures?
In addition to diagnostic tests, more frequent procedures consist of embolizations, endovenous laser ablations and blood transfusions. Embolization is a controlled method of preventing blood flow to a specific area of the body through the use of coils, balloons and chemical agents. Endovenous laser ablation uses a laser to intentionally heat blood and damage a malformed vein so that blood bypasses this region. A blood transfusion is a procedure wherein blood is transferred intravenously following blood loss to restore cell counts.
Are there preventative measures I can take?
While there are risk factors such as family history that might predispose children to cardiovascular diseases, there are also many measures that can be taken to promote heart health. The most useful preventative measures consist of exercise, avoidance of smoking or environments with smoking, maintaining a diet with low cholesterol, and closely monitoring one’s weight and blood pressure.
What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?
A common misconception about heart health is that children do not have to worry about heart disease. However, stress, lifestyle habits and exposure to pollution in childhood can impact one’s well-being, both in the short and long-term. In childhood and adolescence, plaque can start to accumulate in arteries, so it is important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and develop management plans for early conditions such as diabetes.
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