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Heart Tests, Treatments and Services for Children

Pediatric Cardiology Tests and Procedures

At Pediatric Heart Specialists, we diagnose and treat heart conditions in children of all ages, from before birth through young adulthood. With advanced training in pediatric cardiology and related specialties, we provide expert, compassionate care.

We offer ongoing care for kids with all types of heart conditions, treating and managing the most critical congenital (present at birth) heart diseases. For your family’s convenience, we can perform many pediatric heart exams during your child’s visit in our offices. We coordinate care with Children’s HealthSM in Dallas or a children’s hospital near you, if your child needs an invasive procedure.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

This painless, noninvasive test measures and records the electrical activity in your child’s heart. Electrical impulses travel through your child’s heart to control their heart rate (fast or slow) and rhythm (steady or irregular). Electrocardiography measures and records this activity, providing information that we use to screen for and diagnose heart diseases.

Heart ultrasound (echocardiogram)

An echocardiogram (echo), also called heart ultrasound, is an imaging test that creates pictures of your child’s heart. Our cardiologists use echo to examine your child’s heart in motion and see details of blood flow, heart size, chambers and valves. In our office, our physicians and technicians perform this painless, noninvasive test in a calm and relaxing atmosphere for your child. Find out more about echocardiograms.

Diagnosis and management for congenital heart diseases

Congenital heart diseases are structural problems in areas of the heart including the chambers, valves and blood vessels. These conditions develop when part of the baby’s heart doesn’t form properly during pregnancy. The pediatric cardiologists at PHS have extensive experience in critical congenital heart disease diagnosis and management.

Arrhythmia diagnosis and management

An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm that can be unusually fast, slow or irregular. Electrical signals in the heart trigger the muscles to squeeze to pump blood, creating a heartbeat. Problems with the heart’s electrical system can lead to arrhythmias. Our pediatric cardiologists offer complete arrhythmia diagnosis and management.

Cardiovascular risk education

We provide a full range of services and education to help reduce your child’s risk of heart disease. With a focus on preventive care, we offer heart screening tests, counseling for healthy eating and exercise habits, and treatment to manage conditions that can cause heart disease. Learn more about cardiovascular risk education.

Cholesterol screening and education

Children can develop high cholesterol due to lifestyle habits or inherited genetic disorders, raising the risk of future heart disease. Our cardiologists provide cholesterol screening, cholesterol education and medications to help children lower their cholesterol for better heart health.

High blood pressure (hypertension) management

Certain health conditions or unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can cause high blood pressure in children. Our pediatric cardiologists monitor your child’s blood pressure and provide education and medications for high blood pressure management.

Portable (ambulatory) monitoring

Your child will have most of their cardiac diagnostic tests during office visits. Sometimes, we need more information about the symptoms your child is experiencing. With ambulatory (portable) monitors, we can measure and record your child’s heart activity multiple times over a longer period.

For a few days or weeks, your child wears a monitor as they go about their usual home, school and other activities. Ambulatory monitors provide a more complete picture of your child’s heart rates, heart rhythms and blood pressure.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

If your child has high blood pressure, it might only happen during certain activities or even while asleep. Checking their blood pressure only at an office visit might not show any signs of problems. An ambulatory blood pressure monitor automatically takes your child’s blood pressure several times over 24 to 48 hours. By learning what your child is doing when high blood pressure happens, we can better plan their treatment.

Holter monitoring

This ambulatory EKG device continuously records the heart’s electrical activity. At PHS, we use Holter monitors from one to 14 days. A Holter monitor is useful if your child has daily symptoms, such as heart palpitations (fast, fluttering or pounding heartbeat), or abnormal heart rhythms that they don’t notice.

Cardiac event monitoring

A cardiac event monitor is another ambulatory EKG device, and it records the heart’s electrical activity when your child has symptoms. Using the monitor, they press a button to record heart activity when they feel symptoms. Your child wears an event monitor for up to 30 days. Cardiac event monitoring is helpful for children whose symptoms happen less often, such as weekly or monthly.

Pediatric sports cardiology

Our sports cardiac screening and clearances help student athletes avoid life-threatening conditions such as dangerous arrhythmias or sudden cardiac arrest. For young athletes, we offer cardiac screening and services to find and manage heart conditions. Our pediatric cardiologists provide cardiac sports clearances to show that middle school and high school athletes are safe to participate in sports.

Fetal cardiac management

In some babies, parts of their heart may not form properly during fetal development, causing a congenital heart disease. We provide specialized care for pregnant women and their babies, including screening, diagnosis, and management during pregnancy. Our pediatric cardiologists work closely with you and your care team to plan your delivery and your baby’s heart care afterward. Learn more about our fetal heart care services.

Genetic counseling and testing

If your family may be at risk of genetic disorders that affect the heart, we provide genetic counseling and testing to assess and help manage risk. We review your family medical history and possible risk factors to decide on genetic testing and care options.

Cardiac clearances for ADHD medications

As stimulants, medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can raise heart rate and blood pressure. If your child has an unknown heart condition, taking ADHD medications might increase their risk of a cardiac event. Our pediatric cardiologists provide heart screening tests for children who need to take ADHD medications and clearances if they are safe to take them.

Cardiac catheterization

Minimally invasive procedures called cardiac catheterization can help diagnose and treat many pediatric heart diseases. Specialized cardiologists known as interventional cardiologists perform these minimally invasive techniques. They guide thin, flexible tubes (catheters) through a large blood vessel to access the heart for evaluation or treatment. For diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization, we coordinate your child’s care with Children’s Health or another children’s hospital near you.

Surgical evaluation and referra

Children who have certain congenital heart diseases may need surgery to treat them. At Pediatric Heart Specialists, our experienced cardiologists have extensive expertise in diagnosing these conditions, often before a baby is born. If your child needs heart surgery, we coordinate their care with our colleagues at The Heart Center at Children’s Health or another children’s hospital near you.