Pediatric cardiologists specialize in treating children who suffer from heart conditions. These specialists are able to care for kids from the time they are born until around the age of 21.

Watch an Overview of Pediatric Cardiology

About Pediatric Cardiology

Pediatric cardiology is a field of medicine focused on the provision of medical care to infants, children and adolescents suffering from conditions, disorders and diseases of the heart and related structures. Physicians that practice pediatric cardiology are known as pediatric cardiologists, and are specifically trained to treat children with heart conditions; the care provided by a pediatric cardiologist differs completely from that provided by a general cardiologist, or one who cares for adults. Children require different types of treatment, and can suffer from different types of conditions that general cardiologists may not be prepared to treat.

Children may require the care of a pediatric cardiologist for a wide range of reasons. If a child is experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, unusual loss of breath during physical activity or fainting, a primary care physician may refer the patient to a pediatric cardiologist. Despite the fact that symptoms such as these do not always translate into a heart condition, pediatric cardiologists are often consulted with regard to preventive measures – to rule out the possibility of a heart condition. Pediatric cardiologists are trained to treat children suffering from all types of heart diseases and conditions, including pulmonary valve disease, congenital heart disorders or defects, heart disease and arrhythmias, among many other complications and diseases.

When diagnosing children with suspected or known heart problems, pediatric cardiologists are trained to utilize a wide range of tests and diagnostic procedures. These may include stress tests, cardiac catheterization, EKG or ECGs, cardiac MRIs and exercise tests, among many others. The results of tests such as these allow the pediatric cardiologist to eliminate certain diseases as the cause of the symptoms or to identify the disease outright. Following a diagnosis, pediatric cardiologists will implement a treatment and/or management plan that will often involve other medical specialists.

Pediatric Cardiology Education & Training

Pediatric cardiologists draw upon many years of education and training when treating children suffering from cardiovascular conditions and diseases. Pediatric cardiologists complete a rigorous educational path that begins with an undergraduate degree. After graduating with a bachelor's degree, the student enters medical school. During medical school, the student is trained in general medicine through clinical, laboratory and classroom instruction. After graduating with an MD or DO medical degree, the physician will usually enter a residency in pediatrics.

During a pediatric residency, the physician will treat children for a wide range of complications and illnesses while under the guidance of experienced pediatricians and other physicians. The physician will be exposed to the diagnostic and treatment techniques that pediatricians utilize when treating young patients. After completing a three year residency in pediatrics, the physician will typically seek board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics.

After becoming board certified, the physician will enter into a pediatric cardiology fellowship. During three years of fellowship training, the physician will focus their training and research on cardiovascular conditions and diseases that affect children. During the fellowship, the physician has the opportunity to perform research pertinent to their intended area of practice, such as a specific condition or disease. After completing the fellowship training, the physician will usually seek board certification in pediatric cardiology from the ABP. Pediatric cardiologists must be issued a medical license from the state(s) in which they practice.