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Frequently asked questions
To learn more adult congenital heart disease (ACHD), we encourage you to read the following frequently asked questions.
Why is a special program necessary?
Since adults with congenital heart disease live longer than ever before, we have learned that even the simplest defects can produce long-term complications. These include both cardiac and non-cardiac problems.
Cardiac complications include:
- Rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
- Heart block
- Heart failure
- Residual holes
- Leaky and tight valves
- High blood pressure
Non-cardiac issues include:
- Learning disabilities
- Hearing problems
- Vision problems
- Lung problems
To make an appointment, contact us.
I am thinking of getting pregnant. What risks might impact me?
In general, pregnancy in women with a history of congenital heart disease is safe, but for some, pregnancy may have significant risks to the mom and unborn baby. One of the biggest concerns is the increased stress on the heart.
Our ACHD Program is the largest and most experienced program in the state in caring for these special pregnancies. Program physicians work with women who have congenital heart disease to develop a customized plan prior to pregnancy. The ACHD Program involves specialists like perinatologists, who specialize in high-risk pregnancies, and geneticists. Learn more.
To make an appointment to create your personal plan for a safe and healthy pregnancy, contact us.
As an adult with congenital heart disease, do I need regular follow-up care?
Most adults who had heart surgery as a child should see a heart doctor for life.
Early warning signs to see a doctor
While many people may not experience any symptoms, see an ACHD specialist if you experience any of these warning signs:
- Heart racing
- Extra heart beats
- Trouble keeping up with usual exercise routines
- Feeling easily exhausted, for example when walking up stairs.
See a doctor for these non-cardiac situations
Some life situations require special attention for patients with ACHD. These scenarios can have a major impact on quality of life. Our experienced physicians and surgeons can help in situations including:
- Obtaining health and life insurance
- Birth control
- Exercise restrictions
- Learning disabilities
Adults with some congenital conditions likely do not need to see a doctor if heart defects were treated before irreversible heart or lung damage developed. Those conditions include:
To make an appointment contact us.
To make an appointment or talk to an adult congenital heart disease expert at Herma Heart Institute, contact us or call:
Caring for adults with congenital heart disease
Jessica was born with congenital heart disease and has been a patient of Children's Hospital all her life. At age 18, Jessica made the transition to the Adult Congenital Heart Disease program. Read her story here.