You are using an older version of Internet Explorer that is not supported on this site. Please upgrade for the best experience.

Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Baystate Health’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program started in 2014, when it was only one of a few in the country. Today our cardiologists provide comprehensive care with a focus on your long-term health and comfort.

Adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) means you were born with a heart defect. You might have been diagnosed as a child or discovered the problem when you were an adult. There are many kinds of ACHDs, including ventricular septal defect (VSD), atrial septal defect (ASD), and tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).

ACHD is a lifelong condition. Certain heart defects put you at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and endocarditis. This makes it very important that you work closely with your doctors, no matter what your age.

The Baystate Health Congenital Heart Disease Program transitions children with congenital heart disease to adult care between the ages of 18 and 21, depending on when it’s right for you. Our team includes both pediatric cardiologists and adult cardiologists who are experts in congenital heart disease.

Risk Factors

Congenital heart defects develop in the womb, often during the first months of pregnancy. It’s not certain exactly what causes congenital heart disease, but genetics, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors have been linked to it.

Diagnosis

Congenital heart disease is typically diagnosed using noninvasive tests such as echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, X-rays, exercise stress test, or cardiovascular MRI.

Depending on your needs, your doctor may also recommend a painless procedure called a cardiac catheterization.

Treatment

Thanks to extensive research and today’s treatment options, kids born with congenital heart disease are living well into their 50s and beyond. Regular checkups with your doctor are a very important part to staying healthy.

Treatment will depend on your specific needs. Minor heart defects may require regular checkups to track your health. Treatment for serious heart defects may include medications or procedures. Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators can be inserted to control your heart rate or your heartbeats. Catheter procedures can correct the problem.

If your condition can’t be corrected or gets worse, your doctor may suggest open-heart surgery or a heart transplant.