One out of every 125 babies born in the United States is born with a congenital heart defect. Worldwide, about one million babies are diagnosed with CHD annually. In fact, children are 60 times more likely to be diagnosed with a congenital heart defect than cancer.
The good news is that the pediatric cardiology team at Florida Hospital for Children is staffed by some of the leading experts in the world who are at the very forefront of new techniques, technologies, and treatments that can address even the most complex congenital heart diseases.
Our Congenital Heart Disease Program is dedicated to ensuring your child’s health, offering you some of the most renowned experts in the field, including a talented, experienced team of cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and specialists that care deeply about your child, providing the very best care in the country.
This program illustrates one more way Florida Hospital for Children aggressively meets the emerging needs of the community, not only adding new programs and services as they are needed, but finding the best and brightest medical professionals to lead the team, including our Magnet certified nursing staff.
Families from around the state and all over the world trust the Florida Hospital for Children to offer the very best expertise, treatment and outcomes in a compassionate, caring setting.
Adult Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is a lifelong health issue. Since the condition occurs while you are still developing in the womb, as an adult you may not even know you have a congenital heart problem because you've had no obvious symptoms.
If you were diagnosed as a child, understand that you won't simply outgrow the problem. Even if you have had surgery, you still need lifelong care and see your doctor regularly.
The most common forms of adult congenital disorders are: congenital valve defects, patent foramen ovale, atrial and ventricular septal defects, coarctation of the aorta, patent ductus arteriosus, Ebstein anomaly, pulmonary artery stenosis, tetralogy of fallot (ToF) and pulmonary hypertension.
If you have symptoms as an adult, they may include shortness of breath or poor tolerance for exercise. But the danger lies in having the disease and experiencing no symptoms at all. In some cases, only a complete physical exam and tests will confirm the presence of a congenital heart problem. If one is suspected, it is usually confirmed through an echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram, intravascular ultrasound, cardiac catheterization, chest X-ray, MRI, electrocardiogram or a PET scan.
Treatment Options for Adult Congenital Heart Disease
The nature of your congenital condition can range from mild to severe, so your doctor will examine several alternatives for treating it, based on your medical history and the severity of your particular case.
In nearly all cases you will need to have a regular checkup with your physician to make sure the condition doesn't become worse over time.
Medications may help in some milder cases of adult congenital heart disease. These are designed to improve heart function and minimize the effects of the condition.
Some defects can be repaired. One option is to use catheterization to repair the damage without having to perform open surgery. In these cases, a catheter is inserted through a vein in the leg and then guided to the heart. Once it is positioned correctly, the damage is repaired using miniaturized tools.
If the defect is serious enough your doctor may recommend open heart surgery. This can be a complex procedure and the recovery time can be lengthy. If surgery doesn't correct the problem, the last option may be a heart transplant.
As noted, even if you've had surgery as a child to correct your defect, you still need to see your doctor regularly throughout your life. Complications can develop at any point, including infections and arrhythmias. You may need to have periodic checkups and regular screenings to identify any complications as early as possible and a cardiologist specializing in adult congenital heart disease should be part of your healthcare plan. One of our specialists at the institute will be happy to discuss ongoing care options with you.