What is a cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a medical doctor with special training and skills in diagnosing and treating problems with the heart, arteries and veins. Cardiologists work in public and private hospitals and private practice.
Paediatric cardiologists specialise in looking after the hearts of babies and children.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like cardiologists are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Seeing a cardiologist: what to expect
Your child might see a cardiologist if there are concerns that your child has congenital heart disease, a heart defect, a heart murmur, an irregular heartbeat or some other heart condition.
When your child sees a cardiologist, the cardiologist might do tests to identify the problem with your child’s heart. The main medical test that cardiologists use is an echocardiogram. Sometimes, the cardiologist might also use an electrocardiogram, an X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT).
If your child needs heart surgery, your cardiologist might work closely with a cardiothoracic surgeon.
If you’re worried about your child’s heart, start by seeing your GP. Your GP will refer your child to a cardiologist or to a hospital emergency service if needed.
Before going to a cardiologist
Before seeing the cardiologist, it’s a good idea to find out about things like the following:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a cardiologist.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment, or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the cardiologist?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment? For example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the cardiologist cost? Check whether you’re eligible for Medicare, private health insurance or another rebate.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the cardiologist – for example, public hospital, private hospital or consulting rooms.
You can ask your GP these and any other questions before you go to the cardiologist. You could also ask the cardiology clinic when you make the appointment. It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have, so you don’t forget.