Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Elijah Bolin shares what to do if your child experiences chest pain.

What causes chest pain in children?
Chest pain in children is much different than in adults. In children, it’s usually caused by something other than the heart. The chest includes bones, muscles, an airway and lungs that could cause pain. Common diagnoses include reflux, mild viral infections, asthma and inflammation of muscles in the chest.

When should a parent be concerned?
There are two major red flags for chest pain in children: chest pain exclusively experienced with exercise and passing out while exercising. It’s also concerning if a first degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, died at a young age (before 40 years old) of a heart problem.

What happens during a clinic appointment for chest pain?
Evaluation of chest pain usually starts with a history and physical examination. A cardiologist listens to the child’s heart, asks about family history and measures the heart’s electrical activity with an electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG is painless and takes about 10 seconds. Rarely, an ultrasound or stress test is required.


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