General Topics

What are Heart Problems in Children? | Cardiology

Overview of heart problems in children

Congenital malformations are abnormalities in the formation of the heart and/or its main blood vessels. These heart problems occur at birth in eight out of 1,000 babies, but go undiagnosed for many years. The abnormalities range from simple defects, such as a small hole in the wall between the two chambers of the heart, to more complex problems.

Although congenital heart defects are one of the most common birth defects, it can be difficult to know if your child has one. Most heart problems recover during pregnancy or immediately after birth, but others may not be apparent until the baby is a little older.

Heart disease in children

Heart disease is very difficult when touched by adults, but it is especially tragic in children. Heart disease can occur for a variety of reasons, from viral infections to chromosomal abnormalities, and can arise as problems secondary to other diseases or conditions in the body. In most cases, the cause of heart disease is unknown.

The good news is that with the advancement of medicine and technology, many children with heart disease are living full and active lives.

Causes of heart problems in children

A congenital heart defect is a condition (or one of the main heart problems in children) that you are born into. Certain genetic (inherited) diseases or disorders, such as Down syndrome, are associated with congenital heart defects. Certain substances or diseases that a pregnant woman is exposed to can cause congenital heart defects in the fetus, some of which include prescription drugs, rubella (German measles), and uncontrolled diabetes.

Risk factors for heart problems in children

Risk factors for these heart problems in children are divided into two categories: major and contributing. The major risk factors of heart problems in children have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease. There is a risk of heart disease due to proportionate risk factors.

If you have higher risk factors, you are more likely to have heart disease. Some risk factors of heart problems in children can change, treat, or modify and others cannot. But by controlling as many risk factors as possible through lifestyle changes, medications, or both, you can lower your risk of heart disease.

Major risk factors for heart problems in children are:

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Gender
  • Heredity
  • Age

Contributing risk factors to heart problems in children are:

  • Stress
  • Sex hormones
  • Birth control pills
  • Alcohol

Symptoms of heart problems in children

  • Heart murmurs (abnormal heartbeats), depending on the location and nature of the disorder.
  • Symptoms of cardiac arrest, increased breathing rate, shortness of breath, tachycardia
  • “Blue baby” syndrome, in which the skin changes color from lack of oxygen to blue or purple.
  • Clubfoot or spread with a nail that extends the fingers and toes
  • An abnormal increase in red blood cell circulation.
  • Liver dilation
  • Pulse that is hard to hear or has no pulse
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Signs of organ failure, including low urine output or kidney failure
  • The expansion of the heart’s chambers results in the need to work harder to overcome the defect.

Diagnosis of heart problems in children

To diagnose a congenital heart defect or any heart problems in children, your doctor may recommend that you or your baby have some of the following tests and procedures:

  • Echocardiography: Track your / your child’s progress over time to diagnose or not diagnose heart failure. Fetal echocardiography can sometimes diagnose congenital heart defects before the baby is born.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): To evaluate the rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • Cardiac catheterization: Measure the pressure and oxygen levels within the chambers of the heart and blood vessels. This helps to know if blood is flowing from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart instead of going to the rest of the body.
  • Chest X-ray: To show if the heart is dilated. It also shows whether there is excess blood flow or excess fluid in the lungs, which is a sign of heart failure.
  • Genetic testing: To find out if specific genes or genetic syndromes like Down syndrome are causing congenital heart defects. Your doctor can refer you or your child to a genetic testing specialist.
  • Cardiac MRI: Track your / your child’s progress over time to diagnose heart failure or not.
  • Pulse oximetry: Estimate the amount of oxygen in the blood. The small sensor is placed on the hand or foot of the baby or on the finger or toe of the elderly person.

Treatment for heart problems in children

Treatment for heart problems in children depends on the part of the heart affected. Some children do not need treatment if the effect on blood flow is minimal. Others require medication or intervention, such as cardiac catheterization or surgery. Some heart problems in children may not be treated right away, but wait until the child is an adult. Some heart problems in children are dealt with in stages. In such cases, there are options:

● Medications: Many medications help the heart work more efficiently. Some are also useful for preventing blood clots and controlling irregular heartbeats.

● Implantable heart devices: Some devices, such as pacemakers, can help control abnormal heart rates and implantable cardiovascular defibrillators (ICDs), which can correct irregular heart rates and prevent some of the problems associated with congenital heart defects.

● Catheter procedures: These allow doctors to surgically correct or repair congenital heart defects without opening the chest or heart. Here, the doctor inserts a catheter through a vein in the leg to guide the heart. Using small tools threaded through the catheter, he/she proceeds to correct the error. With the advancement of technology, many heart defects can be closed at the cathode in cathode procedures. This reduces the risks and complications of heart surgery.

● Open-heart surgery: These may be necessary if catheter procedures do not correct the error. These can close the openings of the heart, dilate the blood vessels, or repair the heart valves.

● Heart transplant: In cases where the congenital heart defect is too difficult to repair, a heart transplant may be used. In the process, the healthy donor heart replaces the patient’s heart.

Complications of heart problems in children

Congenital heart disease or heart problems in children can cause complications including:

  • Arrhythmia: The heart may beat very fast, very slow, or abnormally due to a defect or scarring after surgery.
  • Congestive heart failure: When the heart cannot efficiently pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, symptoms affect various body systems.
  • Heart infections (endocarditis): This infection of the thin layer that lines the inside of the heart occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream from another part of the body and remain in the heart. If left untreated, it can damage your heart valves or lead to a stroke.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: This type of high blood pressure only affects the arteries in the lungs. Some heart defects cause more blood to flow to the lungs. As pressure increases, the heart has to work harder, causing the muscles to weaken and sometimes fail. Permanent damage to the pulmonary artery can also occur.
  • Slower growth and development: Children with severe congenital heart defects may be younger and learn to walk and talk later than other children.
  • Stroke: Although rare, blood clots can travel to the brain through a hole in the heart or occur during corrective surgery.

What does a Clinical Cardiologist do? | Cardiology

What is a clinical cardiologist?

A clinical cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases or situations of the heart and blood vessels – the cardiovascular system. You can also visit a cardiologist to learn about your risk factors for heart disease and what steps you can take to improve your heart health.

The department of clinical cardiology is an area where patients often have access to specialized inpatient and anti-patent cardiac care and long-term management of their conditions. We offer the latest innovations in cardiac care and clinical therapies for patients of all ages.

We offer state-of-the-art tests and procedures to help make an accurate diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan. We see patients with very common heart problems such as angina, arterial problems, valvular heart disease, and heart failure. We also treat patients with very rare heart conditions, including those who have been told by other doctors that their condition cannot be treated.

When would I need a cardiologist?

Clinical cardiologists also spend a lot of time helping patients manage their heart disease symptoms through lifestyle changes and medication. Many people visit a general cardiologist because they have one of the following symptoms or conditions.

If a person has symptoms of a heart condition, their physician may refer them to a cardiologist.

Reasons to visit clinical cardiologists

The specific reasons to visit a clinical cardiologist are:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes & High blood sugar
  • Overweight or Obesity
  • Inactivity/lack of exercise
  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Stress/anger
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Irregular heartbeat, palpitations (fluttering)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart murmur or suspected valve problem

What does a cardiologist do?

The patient is generally known as a cardiologist because their primary care physician has identified a potential problem. The cardiologist will sit down with the new patient and look at their medical history, check their current physical condition, listen to their heart for any tampering, and discuss related symptoms. They also perform several tests for a more accurate diagnosis, such as ECGs, X-rays, stress tests, biopsies, and blood tests.

Upon receiving the test results, the clinical cardiologists can diagnose any abnormalities you may have, such as congenital heart defects or heart and coronary artery conditions. Most of these conditions are treated with specific medications, diets, and/or approaches.

Types of clinical cardiologist

Types of clinical cardiologists are:

Non-Invasive cardiologist

Non-invasive cardiology is used to describe procedures that do not involve the insertion of needles, fluids, or anything else into the body. The most common non-invasive cardiology procedures include:

  • Nuclear cardiology: Study of cardiovascular disorders by various means of imaging
  • Echocardiography: Also known as EKG, ultrasound is used to create images of the heart and surrounding anatomy to detect abnormalities
  • Cardiac electrophysiology: A term used to describe the study of the electrical currents that produce a person’s heartbeat
  • Stress test: Your doctor will monitor your exercise to provide vital information about your heart function during physical stress
  • Heart monitoring: Heart monitors are recorders that record the electrical activity of the heart over time
  • CT scan: Images used by your cardiologist to examine your heart for abnormalities, such as disease and atherosclerosis

Non-Interventional cardiologist

These clinical cardiologists perform the same tests and examinations as a non-invasive cardiologist, except that she can also perform minor operations. An example is catheterization, which finds blocked arteries in the heart. The non-interventional cardiologist is limited to these operations. Some of these surgeries are done in the office, others in the hospital. If the cardiologist finds an obstruction, she will refer the patient to an interjected cardiologist.

Interventional cardiologist

Interventional cardiology is a subdivision of the cardiology of medicine that uses specialized imaging and other diagnostic methods to assess blood flow and pressure in the arteries and chambers of the heart, as well as techniques and medications to treat abnormalities that affect the function of the heart.

Cardiothoracic surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgery treats conditions of the heart, lungs, and chest. Our surgeons perform a wide variety of cardiothoracic surgeries ranging from minimally invasive to heart transplants.

Pediatric cardiologists

Pediatric cardiologists are doctors who diagnose and treat children with heart conditions. They work with patients before (before birth), during childhood, and adolescence.

What type of procedures does a clinical cardiologist do?

There are many diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in cardiology. Procedures which are followed by clinical cardiologists are:

  • Palpation and oscillation of the pulse: A palpation test is used to detect the pulse and a stethoscope is used to listen to breathing and sounds in the chest (oscillation).
  • Sphygmomanometer: A sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure.
  • Electrocardiogram: This is done to measure the electrical activity of the heart. The ECG records the electrical impulses generated by the heart over some time and creates a pattern of the heart rate and rhythm. ECG monitoring can be continued throughout the day by a device called a Holter monitor, which is worn around the neck and can support cardiac recording electrical activity for more than 24 hours. It reveals occasional abnormalities of heart function that are difficult to detect in a short period.
  • Echocardiogram: The echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the heart as an ultrasound procedure.
  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a detailed image of the heart that can be used to examine the anatomy of the heart and its function. It can help diagnose specific diseases such as cardiomyopathy (diseases of the heart muscle) or diseases of the outer layer of the heart (pericardium).
  • A cardiac stress test is used to check the heart’s response to external stress, which can be triggered by medications or exercise.
  • Blood levels of certain cardiac enzymes such as creatine phosphokinase and troponin T increase in the event of a heart attack because these enzymes leak into the bloodstream from the damaged heart muscle.
  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure done to collect important information about the heart. X-rays of the heart can be taken through a procedure called coronary angiography. A partial flow reserve test can be performed to assess pressure differences across the narrow artery, or an intravascular ultrasound can be used to visualize the vascular endothelium.