Conditions We Treat

Nemours Cardiac Center at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803 | Get Map & Directions »


About Our Comprehensive Care

At the Nemours Cardiac Center, based at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., our pediatric cardiology and heart surgery experts are convinced that virtually all forms of childhood heart disease, even the most unusual and complicated, can be treated.

Our comprehensive, coordinated Nemours Cardiac Center team treats all pediatric and congenital (present since birth) heart conditions, including:

  • heart disease in newborns
  • abnormal structures of the heart or large blood vessels discovered in babies, children and teens
  • heart failure due to infection, an inherited condition or other causes
  • chest pain, fainting, palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms (called “arrhythmias”)
  • evaluation of heart murmurs (noises that occur as blood flows through the heart — some murmurs are heard in children with normal hearts, others may indicate a structural abnormality that may or may not be serious) or cyanosis (bluish color of the skin, which may be due to insufficient oxygen)
  • high blood pressure (called “hypertension”) and high cholesterol (or “hypercholesterolemia”)

Using the latest, most advanced technologies, our Nemours Cardiac Center experts specialize in early detection and repair, using the very best pediatric cardiology treatments available (including surgical, nonsurgical and combination techniques). Our Cardiac Center team helps give children — even those with the most complex heart conditions — the very best chance at a healthy future.

How Does the Heart Normally Work?

When your child has a congenital heart defect, there’s usually something wrong with the structure of the heart. In order to understand your child’s condition, it can help to know how the heart should work normally.
Learn More About Normal Cardiac Anatomy »

Nemours’ experts at KidsHealth.org also offer these helpful resources to help both you and your child understand how the heart works:

Congenital Heart Disease

Most (about two-thirds of) children with heart disease have "congenital" heart disease (often called a "congenital heart defect"), which means their heart didn't develop normally or completely during pregnancy. Other children may have something called an "acquired" heart defect, which is a problem that developed some time after birth.

Congenital heart disease is surprisingly common. More than 35,000 babies are born with a heart defect each year in the United States — that’s about 8 in every 1,000 births, making it the most common congenital defect. These defects occur while the baby is developing in the mother’s uterus, and it’s not usually known why they occur. Some congenital heart defects are caused by genetic disorders, but most are not. What all congenital heart defects have in common, however, is that they involve abnormal or incomplete development of the heart.

 
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease

Because congenital heart defects often compromise the heart’s ability to pump blood and to deliver oxygen to the tissues of the body, they often produce telltale signs such as:

  • a bluish tinge or color (called “cyanosis”) to the lips, tongue and/or nail beds
  • poor appetite or difficulty feeding (which may be associated with color change)
  • an increased rate of breathing or difficulty breathing
  • weight loss or failure to gain weight (also known as “failure to thrive”)
  • sweating, especially during feedings
  • diminished strength of the baby's pulse

Another common sign of a congenital heart disease is a heart murmur — an abnormal sound (like a blowing or whooshing) that's usually detected by a doctor who’s listening to the heart with a stethoscope during a routine exam. To determine whether a murmur is due to a heart defect, we often use an echocardiogram (or “echo,” for short). An echo is a completely safe and painless test that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to build a series of pictures of the heart.

Murmurs are very common in children and can be “innocent murmurs” (also called “benign murmurs”), which are harmless and found in an otherwise healthy heart. Other murmurs may indicate a structural abnormality that may or may not be serious.

Learn More About Heart Murmurs »

 
Early Diagnosis, Treatment & Hope for Complex Hearts, Big & Small

Finding out your child has a congenital heart defect can be scary. You’re probably worried, stressed and filled with questions about what the diagnosis really means. If your child was born with a heart defect, know that a lot can be done to improve and often completely repair children’s hearts at any age, even right after birth.

In fact, most of our patients at the Nemours Cardiac Center are under 12 months old — 61 percent are infants and 25 percent of those are under 1 month of age, so we know how crucial it is to help the tiniest hearts get the best possible start. Thanks to advanced technology and our expert Nemours Cardiac Center team, congenital heart defects in children — even newborns only hours old — can be quickly detected and treated right when it matters the most.

 
Diagnosing Congenital Heart Defects Before Birth

Many congenital heart defects can be diagnosed while babies are still developing in the womb (before birth) or soon after birth. The Nemours Cardiac Center’s diagnostic team and fetal cardiologists will work together with our Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management program and your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN) and/or perinatologist (a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies). Our cardiac center experts will help you understand your baby’s condition and prepare you for the care and treatment after the birth — to help give your baby the best possible chance at a healthy future.

Learn More About Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management »

From Nemours KidsHealth.org

Check out these articles, animations and videos from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.org — the No. 1 most-visited health site for children in the world. View Resources »

Other Diagnoses

At the Nemours Cardiac Center, our pediatric heart experts see children with all kinds of heart problems. In addition to congenital (present at birth) heart disease, children of all ages come to us for care of cardiac conditions. Some children may have something called an “acquired” heart defect, which is a problem that developed some time after birth.

Types of Other Heart Conditions

Get detailed information about each condition (what it is, how and when it’s diagnosed, how and when it’s treated, and how it will affect your child in the long term):

From Nemours KidsHealth.org

Check out these articles, animations and videos from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.org — the No. 1 most-visited health site for children in the world. View Resources »

Make an Appointment

(800) 416-4441

Insurance We Accept »


Information for Patients

Outpatient Services and Inpatient Units: (302) 651-6660

After 5 p.m. and Weekends:

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit: (302) 651-6644
General Inpatient Unit, 2B: (302) 651-6690


International
Patients

+1 (302) 651-4993

Stories From the Heart

Meet children treated in the Nemours Cardiac Center who know what it’s like to live with a heart problem.

Read Their Inspiring Stories »

Health Information

Browse articles related to pediatric heart disease.

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