Having your child be referred to a cardiologist can be a stressful experience. Likewise, hearing that your child does not have serious heart disease can be a great relief! However, there are some times where your child may look or feel fine, but the doctor still says that they need to come back. If the heart is healthy, why is follow up so important?
Some problems can be well tolerated early on, but if not corrected can lead to major problems later on. Examples of this include hypertension (high blood pressure) or high cholesterol levels. If uncorrected either by medication or lifestyle changes, these can lead to adult-type heart disease at younger ages. Medications used to treat these conditions also need routine monitoring in order to keep safely prescribing them.
Similarly, some heart defects may be well tolerated in younger ages, but as a person grows these defects may cause changes in the heart that need treatment. So, it’s important to get these checked periodically.
What if the child is completely normal, but still needs to return? There can be several reasons this might be the case. A common reason for this is a family history of some types of heart disease. Some types of heart disease are inherited, but might not show heart changes right away. The changes in the heart may occur over time, so it is very important to have periodic follow ups to ensure the child’s heart continues to be healthy. While this is important at all ages, it is most important in athletes since these conditions can put an athlete at risk for sudden death.
What if you’re moving? Your child may still need follow up after you move, which will mean you need to find another cardiologist. This can be an added stress in addition to moving to a new home. If you know you are going to move to a new city, it is helpful for your child to have a checkup near the move date to make sure they are as healthy as possible, and that they have any medications that may be needed. It is also helpful if you request your child’s medical records to bring to their new doctor. If you need help finding a new cardiologist for your child, talk to your child’s current cardiologist! They may know of good doctors or clinics in your new city.
If you have any questions about the reason for follow up, speak with your child’s doctor. They can give you specific reasons and times for your child to come back to clinic. At Pediatric Heart Specialists and Pediatric Cardiology Associates of Houston, we care about your child and want to keep your child’s heart as healthy as possible!