Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Heart Disease: About Congenital Heart Disease in Adults

Adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) is a rapidly growing subspecialty that deals with adults who were born with congenital heart disease (CHD). Congenital heart conditions are the most common birth defects, affecting nearly 1 percent of all babies born. With dramatic success in pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery, we now estimate that more than 90-percent of these babies survive into adulthood. Because of their improved survival, we now have more adults with congenital heart disease than children. In the U.S., it is estimated that we have over 1 million patients with some form of CHD, and in the next few years this number will increase.

Why Specialized Congenital Heart Disease Treatment is Needed

Most patients with congenital heart disease undergo repair during infancy or childhood; but it's important to remember that these patients are not cured but only repaired, and often require further treatments for their heart defect as adults. They are at increased risk of developing irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), narrowing or leaky valves, pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, and premature death. Many of them also have medical and psychological issues that require care from dedicated specialists outside cardiology. Because of this, CHD patients require lifelong follow up care with a specialized team of physicians and nurses who understand their unique complexities.

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