Children's Hospital Colorado
Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program

Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD)

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Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program
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What is adult congenital heart disease?

As babies who are born with pediatric congenital heart disease grow up to become adolescents and adults, they have what is known as adult congenital heart disease (ACHD). 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 heart conditions that occur later in life.

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

When is adult congenital heart disease diagnosed?

With today's diagnostic tests, cardiologists can usually detect and diagnose congenital heart defects in utero (during the mother's pregnancy), soon after birth or 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, you may have wondered why you didn't experience symptoms in childhood. In this case, your underlying defect may not be severe. It can take many years for some heart defects to cause symptoms.

Why are adult congenital heart disease specialists needed?

Adult congenital heart disease requires a specialized team of doctors. For the best treatment outcomes, these doctors should have training and experience in congenital heart defects and their impact on adults, such as managing heart disease during pregnancy. The patient support organization Conquering CHD estimates that the vast majority of adults living with congenital heart disease are not receiving proper cardiology care.

At Children's Hospital Colorado, experts in the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program have additional specialty training to care for these unique patients. Watch the video below to meet three patients with ACHD and how they found the lifetime care they need in our nationally ranked Heart Institute.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Matthew Stone, MD

Matthew Stone, MD

Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiac Surgery, Surgery

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Gareth Morgan, MD

Gareth Morgan, MD

Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiology - Pediatric

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Max Mitchell, MD

Max Mitchell, MD

Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery

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Amber Khanna, MD

Amber Khanna, MD

Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics

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Children's Colorado in the news

  • U.S. News & World Report
    Pediatric cardiology center ranked no. 6 in the nation
    June 15, 2021

    Our pediatric Heart Institute’s commitment to best practices, clinical research and tremendous survival rates following congenital and other complex heart surgeries and heart transplants contributed to our top ranking.

  • 9News
    Adults find treatment for congenital heart disease at Children’s Colorado
    July 03, 2019

    Born with a congenital heart defect, Chris Dini now works as a firefighter in Fort Collins. Though he’s now 38, he still receives treatment at Children’s Colorado. Joseph Kay, MD, wants more teens and adults with congenital heart disease to know they need specialized care as they age.

  • 9News
    Discussing life with adult congenital heart disease
    February 13, 2019

    Spencer Rice, a captain at the Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, brought his daughter to a specialist for a heart murmur. He saw the same doctor a month later and eventually had surgery at Children’s Colorado.