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 fetuses, newborns, infants, children and young adolescents.

Why your child might see a cardiologist

Your child might see a cardiologist if it looks like your child has 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 use some special tools and machines to work out the problem with your child's heart. The main medical test cardiologists use is an echocardiogram. Sometimes, the cardiologist might also use X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT).

To see a cardiologist you need a referral from your GP or another specialist. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a cardiologist and help you find someone who's right for your child.

Before going to a cardiologist

Before seeing the cardiologist, it's a good idea to find out some information about:

  • Why you're going to the cardiologist: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a cardiologist and whether there's anything you can do while you're waiting for the appointment.
  • Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the cardiologist?
  • Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
  • Costs: how much will the appointment with the cardiologist cost? It might be expensive, so you could 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, a public or private hospital, or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child's needs.

You might want to talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP 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.

If you're worried about your child's heart, start by seeing your GP. You can also contact the Heart Foundation on 1300 362 787.