Home » Heart » Your Child’s First Cardiology Appointment

Your Child’s First Cardiology Appointment

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. See our disclosure policy for more information.

Before I gave birth to my son, before we learned of his congenital heart defect, I never would have thought to raise awareness for CHD. I never would have known the fear, anticipation, the anxiety and worry leading up to a cardiology appointment or procedure. This fear does not change. It does not lessen or retreat into the dark recesses of your mind as your child grows. It is constant and ever flowing, cresting before appointments and during procedures and open heart surgeries.

Your Child’s First Cardiology Appointment

Before your child’s first cardiology appointment you are overwhelmed, scared, and not sure what to expect. You may have had friends reach out offering to introduce you to other CHD families they know or you may have heard worst case scenarios. So what are some ways you can prepare for your child’s first cardiology appointment? What should you take, and what can you expect?

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment

What to Expect at Your Child’s First Cardiology Appointment 

When we go to Caden’s cardiology appointments we know what to expect.  We have, in his ten year’s worth of appointments, visited the cardiologist dozens upon dozens of times.  The procedure is always the same: first the nurse will check him in, weighing and measuring him.  The nurse will test the oxygen level in his blood and his blood pressure.  Then perform an EKG and give the print out to the cardiologist. After reading the results the cardiologist comes in, asks a few questions, listens to his heart, palpates his abdomen and asks for any symptoms related to the heart: sweating, passing out, turning blue, swollen extremities etc. Then we head to the “dark room” as Caden calls it for the echocardiogram, essentially a sonogram of the heart.

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment (What to Take, What to Expect)

The sonographer, during the echocardiogram, will look at three points: looking up at the heart from an angle under the ribs, the front of the heart straight down and then looking down at the heart from the hollow of the neck. The calmer your child, the quicker this portion of the appointment will go.

If they are squirming it will feel like f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

So what should you take with you?

Take a pen and paper.

I can never remember exactly what the doctor says.  It is inevitable that I end up rummaging around my purse looking for an empty envelope to scribble notes on.  Instead, be prepared and take an actual pad of paper and a pen. This is particularly helpful if your child is just being diagnosed.

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment (What to Take, What to Expect)

Take a file folder or manila envelope.

Chances are you’ll receive a small stack of paperwork.  Insurance forms, heart diagrams, future appointment reminders etc.  Stay on top of the ball and keep everything in the same manila envelope or folder. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you’re looking at more appointments in the near future.

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment (What to Take, What to Expect)

I also requested my son’s Pertinent Information from the Medical Records Department after his first set of heart surgeries.  It is massive, but they gave it to me for free and I’m glad I have it.

Take another adult.

Whether this is your spouse or your mom or dad, sister, brother, cousin, best friend etc. – it helps to have another adult to help capture everything that the doctor says and to help you keep your child entertained while you chat with the doctor.  And not just for the first appointment, but for the first few years of appointments.

Record what the doctor says.

It would be extremely helpful to record what the doctor says (easiest on your cellphone).   This would be particularly useful if you were not able to find someone to accompany you to the appointment.

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment (What to Take, What to Expect)

Make sure your child is well rested. 

Try to plan nap time around the doctor’s visit.  Some cardiologists like to sedate younger children and/or babies during the ECHO portion of the appointment.  Thankfully Caden never had to be sedated as a baby, and I attribute that to him being rested and calm.  Of course, this may not prevent your child from having a sedated ECHO, but it sure doesn’t hurt!

Take their favorite blanket and/or stuffed animal.

You will be there for a while.  When Caden was first diagnosed and for the first few years, appointments could take as long as three hours. Your child will benefit from their blankie, their favorite stuffed animal, any books they like to look at or read etc. The more occupied they are, the quicker the appointment will go.

Your Child's First Cardiology Appointment (What to Take, What to Expect)

I know this is a scary time for everyone involved.  If you need to chat, or you have more specific questions, do not hesitate to get in touch!

More heart resources for families:

What is a Congenital Heart Defect? Statistics You Need To Know From a CHD Mom
A Letter to My Heart Child on His Birthday
Warning Signs of Heart Failure in Children
Caden’s Feet: Walking the Path of Congenital Heart Defect {CHD Parent}
Living With CHD: Learning Barriers for Children with Congenital Heart Defects

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Heart health is so important, more than people realize. It's especially true for young children, as it's the best time to detect heart conditions before they fully develop. If you're child experiences an emergency related to their heart, always visit an emergency room for immediate care.
  2. Thanks for letting me know that sometimes the appointments can take a really long time, up to three hours, so you should make sure to bring some of your kid's favorite things. My son has been complaining that his chest is hurting, and he'll point to where his heart is when I ask him where it specifically hurts. I'm kind of scared that it's something serious, but your article has really helped. Now I'll need to find a cardiologist to take my son to.
  3. It's good to learn about a child's cardiologist appointment. My son has a pretty big heart murmur, so they're thinking he needs to see a specialist. I'll be sure to take my wife with me, so she can keep him entertained, like you said.
  4. I like what you recommend about bringing the child's favorite stuffed animal or blanket. It makes sense that having a familiar object that they can cling to would be a good way of making them more comfortable. I'll have to remember these tips for my son just to ensure that when we go to a cardiologist he will be happy.
  5. Hi, I am Kristian Ham and I am an adult with a CHD. Let me tell you, your description of the cardiology visits is absolute perfection! As an adult, though, I have to do MRIs instead of Echos simply because the Echo doesn't get all the images they need. Caden seems to be a strong young man! I hope all is going well for him! I love expanding my circle of CHD warriors!