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Kid's Health (Archive)
Our award-winning Kid's Health Magazine is designed to provide healthful information for your growing child. Please Note: Kid's Health Magazine is no longer being printed. Please visit our blog at http://www.choc.org/blog for the latest articles about your child's health from the experts at CHOC Children's. You can also receive our electronic Kid's Health newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

CHOC Is #1 In Children's Hearts

“The CHOC Heart Institute has a multidisciplinary team of specialists to diagnose and treat all types of heart defects. We offer a contemporary approach to manage congenital heart disease. Early definitive repair is utilized in many instances.”
Pediatric Cardiologist Michael Rebolledo, M.D.
The CHOC Heart Institute

Few things can make a parent’s heart race faster than a referral to a pediatric cardiologist. “Is it serious?” is the first question most parents have upon learning a child has a congenital heart defect.

Most of the time, CHOC pediatric cardiologist Michael Rebolledo, M.D., is able to tell them, “No.”

“Congenital” means the heart defect was present at birth. About six to eight out of every 1,000 babies are born with a heart defect that may or may not be diagnosed immediately. During well-child visits, pediatricians are always watching for signs of possible congenital heart disease, including heart murmur, difficulty feeding, respiratory distress, poor color, abnormal sweating, poor weight gain, abnormal pulse or blood pressure.

“Most of the referrals I receive from pediatricians are for benign conditions, like an ‘innocent’ heart murmur or rhythm problems. Some problems may completely resolve on their own without any medical or surgical therapy,” Dr. Rebolledo says. “The child may just need a periodic check-up to monitor the condition.”

What To Expect If Your Child Needs Cardiac Testing

The CHOC Heart Institute offers advanced testing to diagnose congenital heart defects. For an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), an electrocardiogram (EKG) is performed to determine if there is an electrical problem with the conduction system or internal pacemaker of the heart.

If a structural defect is suspected, an echocardiogram is performed. This non-invasive test uses sound waves to generate an image of the inside of the heart. If further information is required, CHOC cardiologists can perform a cardiac catheterization. In this minimally invasive procedure, a catheter is threaded through the child’s vein or artery into the heart. A cardiac catheterization gives precise diagnostic information or can be used to treat certain congenital heart defects.

If Surgery Is Necessary

The CHOC Heart Institute is the only program in Orange County that offers open-heart surgery for children born with heart defects. This program is staffed with a team of dedicated pediatric-trained specialists, including cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, intensive care specialists, anesthesiologists and cardiac nurses. CHOC is also the only hospital in Orange County with a specialized cardiac intensive care unit for children.

“Our management of congenital heart disease begins by discussing the nature of the defect with the family and preparing them for either a cardiac catheterization and/or surgical treatment,” Dr. Rebolledo says. “Before surgery, they meet with the cardiac surgeon, who reviews the diagnosis and the surgical plan.”

Recovery takes place in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), under the watchful eyes of a fully trained staff of pediatric intensive care specialists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric intensive care nurses and other specialized hospital staff. Dr. Rebolledo says most patients who undergo surgical repair of routine heart defects are discharged home within four to five days. Prior to discharge, parents receive detailed instructions regarding post-operative care at home. A follow-up visit is arranged with both the cardiologist and cardiac surgeon.

“The vast majority of our surgery patients fully recover within a few weeks,” Dr. Rebolldo says. “At CHOC, we take an aggressive approach to treating congenital heart disease.”

Chest Pain In Children

Dr. Rebolledo says chest pain in children is rarely related to the heart. Chest pain in children is often due to musculoskeletal inflammation or injury. However, contact your pediatrician if your child experiences any of the following symptoms:

  • Fainting (especially with exercise)
  • Palpitations (extra beats) or tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Palpitations with dizziness or light-headedness
  • Chest pain with exercise

If your child has a repaired congenital heart defect and experiences chest pain or palpitations, always contact your child’s cardiologist.


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .