Pediatric Cardiology: aka Heart Disease in Children, Children’s Heart Disease, Pediatric Heart Studies, Cardiology and Children, Kids Cardiology
What is it?
Pediatric cardiology is the study of heart disease in children. Heart disease affects children of all ages; it is not just a disease among adults. Heart specialists treat many different diseases affecting children’s hearts, including congenital heart problems. Each year hundreds of children must undergo heart surgery to repair these heart defects and go on to lead rewarding lives.
Among the more commonly diagnosed children’s heart diseases studied by pediatric cardiologists include:
- Atrial septal defects - these include heart defects causing heart murmurs
- Congenital heart valve problems - these include stiffening of the aorta (the largest artery in the body) and tricuspid regurgitation
- Arrhythmias, where the heart’s electrical system isn’t working quite right
- Atrial fibrillation, where the heart beats irregularly and far too fast
- Bradycardia, where the heart beats too slowly
- Mitral valve disease
- Rheumatic fever
Some children will require heart surgery to repair heart defects, especially congenital heart defects when possible. The type of surgery required will depend on the child and the severity of the heart defect. Some children will be too sick for surgery while others will require immediately surgery to prevent further damage to the heart. It is important your child meet with a specialized pediatric cardiologist as early as possible to evaluate their condition and receive specialized care. Most children will come out of surgery with a scar on the middle of their chest, and other than that, seem like any other kid.
Alternatives to Surgery
Some children will not require surgery. They may require a multi-disciplinary approach to healthcare that may include many different approaching to their overall health and wellness. For example they may need to have frequent physicals by a pediatric cardiologist, an electrophysiologist to monitor an arrhythmia and they may need to receive scans from a cardiac support group or organization.
Before the Operation
Prior to any type of cardiovascular surgery your job as a parent will be educating yourself as much as possible about the pros and cons of surgery. You will need to learn exactly what the goals of surgery are, the potential risks and the potential benefits. You will need to find out how to care for your child before surgery and after surgery and find out what rehabilitation if any is necessary following surgery to ensure the best possible outcome for your child.
A support specialist and therapist can help your family cope with the demands placed on a young child with a congenital heart problem. Sometimes the entire family is in need of additional support and encouragement.
After the Operation- In the Hospital
During the hospital stay following surgery, the patient will have time to recover from the anesthesia so that they can return home. In many cases the recovery period in the hospital may be a few days, so it is important to speak with the physician and the medical facility to understand their procedures following a surgery and treatment.
After the Operation- At Home
Many patients will stay in the hospital for a period of time following surgery to recover. After your child is stabilized he or she can return home to rest and recuperate. Once your child is out of the “danger” zone your doctor may ask you to return for routine follow ups. You will want to monitor your child for potential signs of complications or distress, and report them immediately to your doctor or pediatric cardiologist.
As with any type of surgery there are always risks associated with going under. These include risks associated with anesthesia, and risks associated with infection, blood clots, arrhythmias, tachycardia… some of the risks are the same as the very conditions the doctor is probably trying to treat. Your best bet is to try to think positively and be proactive in assisting your child in their recovery to the best extent you can.
Pediatric cardiologists are trained to provide specialized heart services to young children with heart disease and congenital heart defects. Most parents find that seeking professional specialized care is the best step they can take toward protecting their child from unforeseen complications when their child has heart disease or a congenital heart problem. Make sure you do your homework and seek a referral from a trained professional or a good friend so you have the best possible pediatric cardiologist working with you and your team to ensure your child’s health and wellness.
Estimated Costs for Pediatric Cardiology
The costs associated with pediatric cardiology care depend mostly on the severity of your child’s condition and the types of treatment needed for your child. Most pediatric cardiologists bill on an hourly basis although some may bill for certain procedures on a flat rate type basis.
Most insurance companies will pay for many of the procedures recommended for children with heart disease.
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