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Cardiology & Heart Surgery

Several types of heart disease can affect children. Congenital heart defects, which are present at birth, are the most commonly diagnosed category of pediatric heart problems. Such conditions can relate to the structure, rhythm or muscle condition of the heart. Examples of congenital heart disease include aortic stenosis (in which the aortic valve does not open fully), patent ductus arteriosus (in which abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the arteries connected to the heart) and ventricular septis defect (in which a hole separates the two lower chambers of the heart). Many newborns require surgery to repair the defect before they leave the hospital, but others have milder cases and only need medication. Medical advances in recent decades have dramatically improved the health outcomes of babies with congenital heart defects, and the vast majority of such children now survive to adulthood.

In other cases children can have acquired heart disease, meaning the condition develops later in childhood. Examples of acquired heart disease include endocarditis (an inflammation of the lining of the heart chambers and valves) and cardiac damage as a result of rheumatic fever.

Our pediatric cardiac specialists at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health diagnose and treat all types of heart disease in children. Our experts typically see children who are referred by their primary care physician. In most cases, the doctor has noticed something unusual that merits evaluation by a specialist. Our pediatric cardiologists often see children for:

  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections involving the heart or blood vessels
  • Chest pain
  • Heart rhythm disturbance
  • Fainting
  • Questions about participation in sports

Babies born with heart disease receive expert care at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health after being born at other IU Health hospitals or being transported here from other hospitals in the region.

IU Health provides the only comprehensive set of cardiac evaluation, medical management and surgical services in Indiana for infants and children. Based at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, our pediatric cardiology and heart surgery services consistently achieve high rankings on the annual U.S.News & World Report list of Best Children’s Hospitals. Our board-certified pediatric cardiologists are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating all types of heart and blood vessel disease in children, drawing on both their extensive clinical experience and the field’s most advanced technologies to deliver comprehensive cardiac care. In fact, our services range from prenatal diagnosis and treatment to ongoing care for adults who have congenital heart disease, and we offer counseling on genetic risks for patients and their future children. Additionally, when an operation is necessary, our pediatric cardiovascular surgeons incorporate recent advances in muscle-sparing techniques that also minimize scarring. Our team also includes experienced clinical nurse specialists and cardiology social workers.

The Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health heart team delivers outpatient services to approximately 6,000 children per year and performs approximately 650 pediatric cardiac surgeries. Our pediatric cardiology and heart surgery specialists are faculty members of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and take an active role in preparing the next generation of specialists in this branch of medicine. We also conduct research to find new ways of caring for children with heart conditions.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Cardiology & Heart Surgery Treatment Information

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Cardiology & Heart Surgery Support Services

Several national organizations provide information on the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions in children. The following sites can help patients and families to understand pediatric heart problems, evaluate treatment options and find support in their communities.