Adult Congenital Heart Disease: Overview

What is adult congenital heart disease?

As babies who are born with pediatric congenital heart disease grow up into adolescents and adults, they have what is known as "adult congenital heart disease." Adult congenital heart disease is caused by a malformation during development of the heart while a baby is still in the womb. This is different than acquired health conditions, like high cholesterol, which occur later in life.

Adults with congenital heart defects may have unique issues (such as a history of heart surgery or other medical issues that occur in adulthood) that require visits with specially trained cardiologists.

Why are adult congenital heart disease specialists needed?

Adult congenital heart disease requires a very specialized team of doctors. For the best treatment outcomes, these doctors should have training and experience in congenital heart defects in children and the impact on adults (such as managing heart disease during pregnancy).

Cardiologists who treat adult congenital heart disease at Children's Hospital Colorado are trained in both adult and pediatric cardiology.

Who gets adult congenital heart disease?

With today's diagnostic tests, cardiologists can usually detect and diagnose congenital heart defects before a child reaches school age. However, in some cases, these conditions go unnoticed until a person becomes an adult.

If you are a newly diagnosed adult with a congenital heart condition, you may have wondered why you didn't experience symptoms of pediatric congenital heart disease. In this case, your underlying defect may not be very severe. It can take many years for some heart defects to cause symptoms.

Learn more about our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program.