Those born with heart defects need specialized, lifelong follow-up care. They need someone who understands the impact of a congenital heart defect, which is different from the impact of developing heart problems as an adult.
Dr. Stephen Cook, director of the Adult Congenital Heart Program at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, discusses the importance of continuing care for adults with congenital heart disease and expertise available.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. About one of every 100 babies born in the United States have a heart defect that is present at birth.
Advances in medical, transcatheter and surgical therapies have led to dramatic improvements in this population, helping people live longer. An estimated 1.4 million Americans alive today have some form of congenital heart disease, which means there are more adults living with it than children.
Congenital heart disease is a life-long condition – one originated from birth – and needs to be monitored throughout life. Medical care and treatment for a congenital heart defect someone received as an infant or child helped make things better, but few defects are “cured.”
Maintaining health throughout life is a partnership with congenital heart teams because depending on the type of defect, it can impact:
• Lifestyle choices and safe exercise
• Career choices
• Birth control, pregnancy and childbearing
• Treatment for other health conditions
Unfortunately, many are not. Less than 10 percent of adults with congenital heart disease are receiving the follow-up care they should. It's common for adult patients to stop seeing a congenital heart specialist and then experience significant health problems.
Helen Devos' Congenital Heart Center includes care for all ages – from fetal/before birth, through adulthood. It’s one center so medical professionals can help patients seamlessly transition from pediatric care into adult care. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital's Congenital Heart Center is one of the few centers in the country that does this.
Learn more about congenital heart defects at an upcoming conference hosted by the Adult Congenital Heart Association on Saturday, May 2.
The event will take place at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin University from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Registration will be discounted until April 23.
The Congenital Heart Center is located at 25 Michigan Street in Suite 4100.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (616)-267-9150 or visit spectrumhealth.org/ACHD.