Teens With Congenital Heart Disease Need Help Moving to
WEDNESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Early adolescence is the
time that patients with congenital heart disease should start
preparing for the move from pediatric to adult medical care, says a
new American Heart Association scientific statement.
Congenital heart disease, which occurs before birth, is the most
common type of birth defect. Most of these heart disorders are
relatively mild and treatable.
The majority of children born with a congenital heart defect
survive into adulthood and live normal lives, but many require
specialized and ongoing medical treatment.
That's why a smooth transition from pediatric to adult medical
care is so important and needs to be a joint effort between the
doctor (usually a pediatric heart specialist), the patient and the
The transition should begin when the patient is 12 to 14 years
old, according to the scientific statement, released Feb. 28.
"It's not as simple as getting the name of a new doctor and going to see them when a patient turns 18," Dr. Craig Sable, co-chair of the statement committee and director of echocardiography and cardiology fellowship training at George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C., said in an American Heart Association news release.
"There are multiple steps associated with the transition process that need to be started at a very young age, so that by the time these children become adults the process is well under way," Craig explained.
The statement outlines a number of critical steps in the
- Select an adult care physician to provide and coordinate
- Offer reproductive, genetic and career counseling
- Obtain health insurance
- Educate adult care health providers about congenital heart
- Maintain communication between patients, families and health
The statement appears in the journal
About nine of every 1,000 infants, or 36,000, are born with a
heart defect annually, according to the American Heart
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
congenital heart disease.
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