Caring for the Adult with Congenital Heart Disease: Management of Common Defects
Reema Chugh, MD, FACC
Spring 2007 - Volume 11 Number 2
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are common birth defects, with major ones occurring in nearly 1% of live births. Many are diagnosed with CHD in infancy and childhood, whereas others are not diagnosed until adulthood. Advances in pediatric medicine and surgery since the 1940s have made it possible for nearly 85% of infants born with CHDs to survive into adulthood.
Primary care physicians, obstetricians, and cardiologists are now seeing patients in transition to adulthood from the pediatric cardiology clinics. In addition, there are those who were lost to follow-up monitoring for several years because of problems with insurance or the belief that they did not need follow-up care because their defect was "repaired." All patients do need follow-up monitoring because there are long-term residua and sequelae associated with repair of nearly all the defects. Routine follow-up care allows prevention, early identification, and appropriate management of these problems. Women with CHDs may be at risk for maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy and should have preconception counseling.