Sabrina D. Phillips, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist specializing in adult congenital heart disease, reviews the importance of ongoing cardiac care for adults who have transitioned from pediatric cardiology care.
Congenital heart disease affects about 1% of live births. With the improvements in medical and surgical care over the last three decades, most patients, even those with severe defects, will survive to adulthood.
Currently in the United States, more adults than children live with congenital heart defects. Many adults with congenital heart disease require expert subspecialty cardiac care in a tertiary care facility with access to a multidisciplinary care team to achieve and maintain optimum health. Many patients are lost to care, however, as they transition to adulthood. The point of contact for return to medical care may be a provider other than a cardiologist.
Patients most at risk to be lost to cardiac care are those who perceive that they are cured or do not identify their cardiac defect as severe. The challenge for providers encountering these patients is recognizing who needs referral to an adult congenital heart disease subspecialty clinic if the patient does not present with a cardiac complaint.
Dr. Phillips shares flags to help the clinician recognize patients who need a referral to a specialist in adult congenital heart disease.