Treatment Options for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

An echocardiogram EKG readout held by a doctor in a white coatIf you were born with a heart problem, it is very important to pay attention to your heart health for your entire life. This is true even if you had surgery or other treatment as a child, or were told your heart problem was fixed. Being born with a heart problem puts you at risk for later heart complications. If you get pregnant, it can affect you and your baby. And you might need more treatment later in life.

Learn about pregnancy and adult congenital heart disease  

Learn if you should have concerns about adult congenital heart disease

If I need treatment, what are my options?

There are many types of congenital heart disease. The right treatment for you depends on these factors:

  • What heart problem you were born with
  • If it is mild, severe or in between
  • If doctors treated your problem when you were younger, and how they treated it
  • If the problem has changed over time –And if it is causing symptoms
  • Your age, health and goals in life

Treatment options for adult congenital heart disease

Checkups –Everyone with adult congenital heart disease, or ACHD, needs regular checkups. Even if your problem was treated when you were a child, you need to see a cardiologist (heart doctor). How often you need to return to the cardiologist depends on your condition. Most patients will need to be seen every 1 or 2 years. The doctor will check your heart health and look for any problems.

Mental and emotional support –If you were born with a heart problem, research shows you are more likely than other people to feel anxious or depressed. If your heart causes problems now, you might also need help dealing with everyday life. The OHSU Adult Congenital Heart Disease program has one of the few psychologists in North America specializing in ACHD. This unique treatment option can help your overall health. Meet our psychologist, Dr. Adrienne Kovacs.

Medication –This can help you stay healthy even if your heart does not work perfectly. You might need medication to lower your blood pressure, help your heart muscle work better, prevent blood clots or fix an irregular heartbeat.

Medical device –You might need a pacemaker to keep your heart beating in a normal rhythm. Or you might need a device called an "implantable cardioverter defibrillator" to get your heart back to normal quickly if it beats irregularly.

Non-surgical procedure –To repair a problem that was not fixed earlier or happened with time. During cardiac catheterization, doctors can insert valves or stents through a large blood vessel. This can help treat leaky valves or narrowed vessels. Doctors can also use X-rays and other imaging (picture taking) equipment to see inside the body and fix heart problems.

Heart surgery –If medication, a device or a non-surgical procedure does not work, or your doctor believes surgery is the best option, you might have this to help your heart work better.

What conditions do you treat?

There are many types of congenital heart disease. The right treatment for you depends on these factors. We treat over forty types of heart defects, from mild to severe, including:

Aorta and Blood Vessel Conditions

  • Anomalous Coronary Artery 
  • Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return 
  • Coarctation of the aorta 
  • Interrupted Aortic Arch 
  • Kawasaki Disease 
  • Patent ductus arteriosis
  • Peripheral Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Subaortic Membrane
  • Total and Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR, PAPVR)
  • Vascular Ring  

Genetic Conditions Affecting the Heart and Blood Vessels

  • Loeys-Dietz Syndrome
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Noonan Syndrome
  • Scimitar Syndrome
  • Shone Syndrome
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Williams Syndrome

Heart Valve Conditions

Other Structural Heart Conditions

Surgical Follow-up Care

  • Arterial switch repair
  • Fontan repair
  • Mustard repair
  • Senning repair
  • Rastelli procedure