What to Expect During a Visit
A typical congenital heart patient visit includes an Echo ECG, a health history, and a physical exam. Typically, the patient can expect to see three or four different congenital heart professionals during the course of the visit.
At each visit, the patient and cardiologist discuss when to schedule the next visit and what future testing to include in the treatment plan.
Adult Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
Patients with congenital heart disease can have many different symptoms. Treatment is based on the symptoms. Some examples:
For a patient whose heart beats fast, either all the time or every once in a while, treatment options may include:
- Medicines to control the heart rate or to prevent the abnormal rhythm
- An ablation procedure, where the electrical circuit causing the rapid heartbeat is interrupted
For a patient whose valve problem becomes severe, treatment options include:
- Valve repair
- Valve replacement
For a patient who has had a heart infection called infective endocarditis, treatment may include:
- Heart surgery, if needed
For a patient with a very weak heart muscle, treatment options may include:
- Treatment of the condition causing the weak heart muscle (for example, a very leaky or narrow valve)
- A pacemaker procedure called “cardiac resynchronization”
- Mechanical circulatory support and/or heart transplantation
Who Should Receive Genetic Screening?
Some patients may have congenital heart disease, which is related to a genetic condition.
- Abnormality of an infant's chromosomes (5 percent to 6 percent)
- Single gene defects (3 percent to 5 percent)
Knowing if a patient has a genetic condition is important in order to improve their healthcare treatment. It also helps patients understand the possible risks to other people in their family.
Patients with the following issues may benefit from a genetic screening:
- Problems with growth such as short stature
- Another type of birth defect in addition to a congenital heart defect
- Hearing loss or major problems with vision
- Learning disabilities or developmental delay
- Conditions that don’t have a known cause in a patient such as a major kidney problem, a thyroid disorder, or a mental health diagnosis
- A family history of any of these concerns or a family history of congenital heart disease
Patients with a heart defect who are interested in discussing pregnancy may benefit from genetic counseling and / or screening.