If your pediatrician has a question about your child’s heart, s/he may refer you to our pediatric cardiologist. Of course, most parents aren’t sure what to expect. Rest assured, your child is in good hands. Kids have access to the best cardiology care at Riverside Medical Clinic. We provide a wide range of services and the latest technology to treat heart defects and heart disease in infants, children and teens.
What can I expect?
Here are some of the tests that your doctor may order to help diagnose heart problems. They are all pain free and allow your pediatrician to have a better look at the heart:
Echocardiogram (Also called an “echo”) – This is basically an ultrasound of the heart. It’s important that children stay calm and still so there may be soft music playing. Some children even fall asleep during an echo.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) – This is a quick, safe and painless test to assess the electrical beats of your child’s heart. Small stickers called electrodes will be placed on your child’s chest, arms and legs. They detect when the body sends an electrical signal to begin a new heartbeat (usually 60 to 115 times per minute). The information is recorded on a graph for the doctor to measure the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through the heart. With this test, your doctor will be able to check for…
- valve disease – one or more of the heart valves may be blocking blood flow
- chest trauma – an incident that caused blunt force trauma to the chest
- an enlarged heart – caused by a heart defect, heart valve problem, high blood pressure or congestive heart failure
- ischemia – a decrease in blood flow to the heart due to a clogged artery
- problems with conduction – impulses that cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or unevenly
- electrolyte imbalance – levels of potassium, magnesium or calcium in the blood may be off
- pericarditis – an inflammation or infection of the sac that surrounds the heart muscle
Stress test – This test is performed on a treadmill. Your child will walk while being connected to a machine – usually with a mask over the mouth and nose to monitor oxygen levels. Stress tests measure heart rate, blood pressure and irregular rhythms. The test can last 30 to 40 minutes. Parents might want to bring sneakers and comfortable clothes for their child to wear.
Holter monitor – This is a 24-hour EKG test. Your child will wear a small, portable device to record heart rhythm during everyday activities. The doctor will ask you to keep an hour-by-hour diary so they know what your child was doing.
What’s a congenital heart defect?
CHDs are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Most causes are unknown. It’s also one of the most common birth defects – as common as autism. For a great resource and support community for CHD and any heart disease, please visit Little Mended Hearts.
What’s a pediatric cardiologist?
A pediatric cardiologist is a pediatrician who has additional specialty training in the diseases of the heart and circulatory system of children. S/he can diagnose, treat and manage heart problems. Children have different kinds of heart problems than adults typically do. For example, heart attacks in children are very rare. Children are more likely to be diagnosed with a heart defect. While all of our pediatric physicians can provide quality care for children, Dr. Payal Patel is our expert pediatric cardiologist. She has extensive training in treating children with heart problems such as congenital heart defects, arrhythmias, chest pain, syncope and palpitations. Her expertise even includes fetal care to diagnose and help babies before they’re born.