Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a problem present at birth that involves the structure of the heart, its valves, or blood vessels. It is the most common type of birth defect, affecting about one in 100 babies. There are many types of congenital heart disease; some are mild, showing no signs or symptoms and often are not diagnosed until later in life. Others are more complex and require special medical or surgical treatment shortly after birth and lifelong care or monitoring. Thanks to medical advances, increasing numbers of children with CHD are surviving into adulthood, at which time their condition is known as adult congenital heart disease (ACHD).

Why UAB

UAB Medicine operates a Marfan Syndrome and Related Disorders Clinic, which is a multi-specialty clinic that includes physicians from the UAB Department of Pediatric Cardiology and the UAB Department of Genetics. Services offered include physical exams, echocardiogram/EKG, and genetic testing for diseases and conditions of the aorta, when needed. The clinic’s genetic counselor works with patients to help them better understand their condition and evaluate their risk for medical issues based on genetic testing results.

Because Marfan syndrome can affect the heart, patient care also may be provided by the UAB Congenital Heart Disease Program. The program offers the most advanced care for congenital (present at birth) heart disease, which often requires lifetime monitoring and care. Our multi-specialty team of pediatric and adult cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, cardiovascular anesthesiologists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists have unique expertise in treating patients before birth and into adulthood.

UAB Medicine’s modern ultrasound equipment allows many heart defects to be diagnosed before a child is born. Screening exams performed at 18-20 weeks are recommended for expecting mothers or fathers known to have congenital heart disease. If a defect is discovered, our experts provide prenatal treatment and develop a plan for delivery and treatment after birth.

Thanks to advances in pediatric congenital care, the life expectancy for most patients now reaches far into adulthood. However, more than half of the people with congenital heart problems stop seeing a cardiologist once they turn 18. UAB’s Alabama Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is designed to prevent that gap in care. As the only adult congenital heart disease program in the state and one of only a few in the country, our expertise greatly increases the chances that symptoms will be identified early. This helps ensure that less serious problems are addressed before they develop into larger, more life-threatening issues such as heart failure, arrhythmia, residual congenital heart defects, endocarditis, and stroke.

 

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CLINICAL TRIALS

UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for congenital heart disease. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials