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Heart problems are hard enough when they strike adults, but they can be especially difficult when they affect children. There are many different types of pediatric heart problems. Heart problems may be detected before a child is born, at birth, or later. These problems include congenital heart defects, viral infections, high blood pressure, and vascular and heart diseases that occur later in childhood because of other illnesses or genetics.

Intermountain Healthcare provides complete heart and vascular care services for children. These services include:

  • A congenital heart disease clinic
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Heart transplant services
  • Cardiac catheterization procedures

Your child will be assigned a team of healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses who will work to diagnose and treat your child’s heart problem. With advances in medicine and technology, many children with heart problems can live full, active lives.

Things You Need to Know

A child with heart problems may or may not have obvious symptoms. Symptoms of heart problems in children vary based on their age. Common symptoms may include:

  • Irregular heartbeat, also called arrhythmia [uh-rith -mee-uh]
  • Bluish skin color
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chest pain

If these symptoms happen suddenly, you should call your child’s doctor right away. These symptoms may indicate other serious medical conditions that need immediate treatment.

Following the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Utah law, Intermountain hospitals screen all newborns for heart problems. Although most newborns don’t have a heart problem, early detection and treatment can be crucial for helping babies who do.

When to See a Doctor

Your child’s doctor will check their heart at each checkup. If your doctor finds a problem, they will likely refer your child to a specialist called a pediatric cardiologist. Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions of the heart.