Pediatric cardiologists are specialist Pediatricians who diagnose and treat heart problems in children. A pediatric cardiologist treats children both with acquired and congenital heart problems. Like other Pediatricians, a pediatric cardiologist treats children until they become 18 years of age. 

What are congenital heart diseases?
When babies are born with heart defects, those are congenital heart defects. These defects may range from simple to complex ones. The child may have a hole in the heart, which leads to the mixing of oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood. A child may be born with faulty heart valves. Due to defective heart valves, the blood supply to the body’s different parts may be disrupted. A child may also have problems with the blood vessels of the heart, which is a complex defect. Most babies may not have symptoms of congenital heart problems. To identify heart defects in children, qualified pediatric cardiologists perform many tests. 

Tests for diagnosing congenital heart diseases
Pediatric cardiologists may suggest one or more tests discussed below to diagnose if the child has congenital heart disease. 

Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray shows a child’s condition of the lungs and heart. With an X-ray, the doctor can diagnose if the child has an enlarged heart or the lungs are filled with fluid. 

ECG: Electrocardiogram or ECG is a non-invasive test that can record the electrical activity of the heart. Doctors use this test to diagnose if the child’s heart has an irregular rhythm. This condition is called arrhythmias. 

Echocardiogram: Echocardiogram test uses sound waves and forms the heart’s image when it is in motion. With this test, doctors are able to diagnose if there is any abnormality in the movements of blood through the heart. 

Pulse oximetry: In this test, the sensor placed on the fingertips of the child finds out the oxygen saturation in the blood. If oxygen saturation is low, it could be a symptom of a heart problem. 

Cardiac catheterization: Paediatric cardiologists suggest this test to get detailed information about blood flow in the heart. This process is also used as a treatment for specific heart problems. 

Heart MRI: With the help of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the heart, 3-D images of the heart are obtained. This helps the doctors get the correct measurements of the child’s heart chambers and find out if there is any problem.  

Treatment of congenital heart defects

A child may be born with one or many congenital diseases. The course of treatment depends on the type of heart disease. The different ways of treating congenital heart diseases in children are:

Medication: Paediatric cardiologists may prescribe medicines to treat heart diseases in children. 

Heart Surgery: surgery may be the only solution for treating congenital heart defects in some children. Qualified pediatric heart surgeons perform these surgeries. Some children may need one or many surgeries over a few months or years. Some children have to undergo heart surgery immediately after birth, while others may require surgery later in their childhood. 

Cardiac catheterization: Some children are born with holes in their hearts. With the help of cardiac catheterization, these holes are closed by inserting balloons. 

Ablation: Some children are born with the problem of abnormal heart rhythms. They are treated by inserting small tubes inside their heart. Sometimes, a small portion of the heart causing the problem is destroyed by freezing that portion or using radiofrequency energy. 

Heart transplant: In some children, a heart transplant is the only solution to treat heart problems. 

Symptoms of congenital heart defects
Minor congenital heart defects may not show signs or symptoms during early childhood. But, with age, children may have these signs and symptoms if born with heart defects. 

  • Children have shortness of breath faster during any activity or exercise than other children of the same age.
  • Gets tired more quickly during any activity or exercise
  • Faints while exercising or doing any activity
  • Swelling in feet, hands, and ankles

The symptoms of severe congenital heart diseases in children are:

  • Blue or pale grey fingernails, tongue, or lips
  • Fast breathing
  • Swelling of the stomach, legs, and areas surrounding the eyes
  • Poor weight gain in infants due to shortness of breath while feeding        

The risk factors of congenital heart diseases
The exact causes of congenital heart disease are not known. But, some of the risk factors for congenital heart defects are:

  • Diabetes: If the mother has controlled blood sugar levels during and before pregnancy, it reduces the risks of congenital heart diseases. 
  • Medications: Certain medicines given to the would-be-mother may increase the chances of congenital in the child. 
  • German measles or Rubella: If the would-be mother suffers from rubella during pregnancy, it increases the chances of congenital heart disease in the child. Would-be mothers can be given the rubella vaccine if it is found that they are not immune to rubella. 

In the world of advanced technology, we have various techniques to diagnose congenital heart defects at an early stage and treat them accordingly. So, if you find any symptoms related to heart disease, consider visiting Dr Manvinder, one of the best pediatric cardiologists in Gurgaon.