Pediatric cardiologists are doctors who specialize in children’s heart problems. Their patients may range in age from unborn babies still in the womb to teenagers, and in some cases even adults. The main difference between pediatric cardiology and adult cardiology is not only that pediatric cardiologists treat younger patients. Pediatric cardiologists are much more likely to treat heart problems that are congenital, meaning a patient is born with them.
Due to the advances of modern medicine, babies who are born with congenital heart disorders are more likely than ever to survive into adulthood. In certain cases, pediatric cardiologists continue to provide care for these adult patients, because their training and experience gives them particular insight to the kind of heart problems these adult survivors have.
Other than congenital heart disease, pediatric cardiologists also treat:
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Murmurs or palpitations
Infections of the heart
Cardiomyopathy, or problems with the heart muscle
Arrhythmia, or irregular heart beats
Congestive heart failure
A pediatric cardiologist often uses tests called echocardiograms and electrocardiograms (EKG) to examine the structure and activity of the heart. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment may involve lifestyle changes, catheterization (where a thin tube is threaded through a blood vessel to the heart to open blockages or provide further information), or surgery.