• Understanding Adult Congenital Heart Disease

     
     
     
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    You may be one of the growing number of adults who was born with a heart defect. Today, because of improvements in early diagnosis during pregnancy, treatment in the early neonatal period, surgical techniques, and pre- and post-operative treatments, there are more adults than infants with congenital heart disease. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, more than 1,000,000 adults in the United States have a heart defect.

    In fact, today, some 90 percent of children born with a heart defect survive to adulthood. Just 70 years ago, in the 1940s, only 20 percent of children born with a heart defect lived to age 16.

    Some of the more common congenital heart defects that may affect adults include:

    While most adults with congenital heart disease now have better odds of living a normal life than ever before, special considerations remain. The first generations of adults with congenital heart disease have found themselves in uncharted territory: How does congenital heart disease affect adulthood?

    • Continuing Care as an Adult: Adults with congenital heart disease may find themselves taking over their own care from family members for the first time. As an adult with congenital heart disease you may be wondering the following: What kinds of activities can I/ can’t I do? How can medical insurance be obtained and maintained? What kinds of employment will be OK? These are but a few of the important questions that adults with congenital heart disease will face.
    • Fontan Procedure: Patients who as infants underwent a surgery called the Fontan procedure have only one functioning ventricle to pump blood to the body. These patients may begin to have serious complications as they reach adulthood and must aggressively manage their heart health.
    • Pregnancy in Women with Congenital Heart Disease: Many women with congenital heart disease can safely become pregnant, though some defects present too great a risk to the safety of the mother and baby. If either the father or mother has a congenital heart defect, conversations with a physician can help determine the likelihood that a baby will also have congenital heart disease.
  • Common Types of Adult Congenital Disease

    Aortic Stenosis – Adult Congenital Heart Disease

    Aortic stenosis is a form of congenital heart disease in which the valve in the heart that allows blood to flow to the body is narrowed. Read on for information about the characteristics of the defect at birth and the treatment and follow-up care that is necessary into adulthood.

    Continuing Care as an Adult

    Even today's more advanced treatments cannot necessarily "cure" congenital heart disease or permanently prevent recurrent heart problems. Many adults who were born with a heart condition require lifelong follow-up with a cardiologist. They may also need treatments, such as special medications, implantation of pacemakers, or procedures to repair new or recurrent, heart defects.

    D-Transposition of the Great Arteries – Adult Congenital Heart Disease

    D-transposition of the great arteries is a form of congenital heart disease that must be corrected shortly after birth for survival. Read on for information about the characteristics of the defect at birth and the treatment and follow-up care that is necessary into adulthood.

    Fontan Procedure – Adult Congenital Heart Disease

    Some congenital (present at birth) heart defects cause oxygen-rich blood and oxygen-poor blood to mix in your circulation. This can result in your body not receiving the amount of oxygen it needs for healthy functioning. The Fontan procedure is a surgical technique used to separate oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood.

    L-Transposition of the Great Arteries

    L-transposition of the great arteries is a form of congenital heart disease in which blood circulation flows in the way it should, but serious problems may still exist or develop and require treatment. Read on for information about the characteristics of the defect at birth and the treatment and follow-up care that is necessary into adulthood.

    Pregnancy in Women with Congenital Heart Disease

    Treatment advances over the preceding decades have markedly changed what it means to be born with a heart defect. Approximately 90 percent of children who are born with congenital heart defects in the United States now survive to adulthood.

    Tetralogy of Fallot - Adult Congenital Disease

    Tetralogy of Fallot (fuh-LOE) is a form of congenital heart disease that is often corrected at 6 to 9 months of age. Read on for information about the characteristics of the defect at birth and the treatment and follow-up care that is necessary into adulthood.