Historically, conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack and stroke were considered adult diseases. After decades of research, we now know that coronary and cardiovascular disease actually begin in childhood. Fortunately, many children can avoid these diseases later in life when they are screened early and treated as necessary. They can also protect themselves against disease by learning to practice healthy diet and exercise habits in childhood and beyond.
The Preventive Pediatric Cardiology Program at Riley Children’s Health helps families lower their children’s risk for adult cardiovascular disease, and we treat kids who already have symptoms such as abnormal cholesterol (dyslipidemia) or high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend universal lipid screening in well-child visits between the ages of 9 and 11. Pediatricians and family physicians screen some children even earlier due to elevated risk factors, such as juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity or family history, such as a parent or grandparent affected by:
- High cholesterol and/or coronary atherosclerosis
- High blood pressure and/or stroke
- Poor blood flow to the extremities due to a build-up of plaque in the arteries (peripheral vascular disease)
- Heart attack or sudden cardiac death before the age of 55 in male family members and before the age of 65 in female family members
If your child’s test results or family history suggest they may benefit from early preventive care, our fellowship trained physicians, registered dieticians and nurse practitioners can support your family as you make positive steps to stop cardiovascular damage before it starts.
Whether you come to our program through a referral from a pediatrician or family physician, or you find us independently, our highly skilled team serves the individual needs of your child and your family circumstances.
Why See a Preventive Cardiology Specialist?
Working in tandem with dedicated nurse practitioners, physicians at Riley at IU Health are fellowship trained in preventive and pediatric cardiology—an extra tier of education and experience that can help protect your child against future cardiovascular disease.
Registered dietitians, specially trained to help families make practical dietary changes, are an integral part of your child’s healthcare. Unlike many programs, our nutritional expertise is built into patient care.
Here’s what you can expect from the Riley at IU Health Preventive Cardiology Program:
- Customized care based on your family’s unique circumstances. In your initial visit, we get acquainted with your family. We learn more about your food environment such as who shops for groceries, where they shop and what a typical day of eating looks like for your child. We identify potential dietary contributors to your child’s lipid results. We explore what kinds of activities your child can do safely, and we help your family overcome any barriers to regular daily exercise, whether they are motivational or environmental.
- Practical help for making lifestyle changes. After we know your family better, we work with you to set simple, reasonable goals that can be achieved over time.
- Health education. We provide developmentally appropriate education to children to help them see how they can take an active role in controlling the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. What’s best for your child is often good for you, too. For that reason, we also concentrate on sharing tools parents and caregivers can use to lead their families toward a healthy lifestyle.
- Extensive follow-up care. We stay in touch with your family through routine appointments and phone calls that can keep you and your child on a healthy track.
- Specialized care for related conditions. We collaborate with other specialists to identify and manage related health conditions, such as diabetes, fatty liver disease or kidney disease—all of which can contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension).
Our comprehensive team helps your family change lifestyle factors that might otherwise lead to coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Improved diet and exercise are often the best therapy, but we can also prescribe medications to treat conditions that need additional intervention.
Conditions & Services
Our pediatric specialists provide patient- and family-centered care for most related conditions. The links below provide more specific information about some, but not all, of the conditions that we treat.
Program Forms & Resources
Program Forms & Resources
These resources can help you learn more about how to protect your child from future cardiovascular disease.
We provide multispecialty care for a number of conditions. Below are links to our related departments.
For Health Professionals
Refer A Patient
We welcome referrals from pediatricians and primary care physicians whose patients would benefit from preventive cardiology care. Contact us at 317.944.8906.
Riley Heart Center specialists are active researchers who improve care for congenital heart disease and acquired heart disease through innovation. At any given time, they are conducting numerous clinical trials and research to find better treatment options. A team of physicians, researchers and coordinators at the Riley Heart Center collect outcome data for research purposes by pediatric cardiovascular specialists working with multiple research partners, including the Indiana University School of Medicine. They also support continuous process improvement at the Riley Heart Center. Bench researchers at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research collaborate with our physicians on studies related to heart failure in children.
The Riley Heart Center offers formal fellowship training for physicians who want to advance their experience in pediatric cardiology, critical care and cardiac surgery. Part of the cardiology fellowship program at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) includes an optional rotation within the Adults with Congenital Heart Disease Program at Riley at IU Health. Visit the IUSM website for details about our fellowship program.