Children's Hospital Colorado

Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD)

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 Pediatric Congenital Heart Association estimates that the vast majority of adults living with congenital heart disease are not receiving proper cardiology care.

Cardiologists who treat adult congenital heart disease at Children's Hospital Colorado have additional specialty training to care for these unique patients.

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Bettina Cuneo, MD

Bettina Cuneo, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Johannes Von Alvensleben, MD

Johannes Von Alvensleben, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric

Sarah Kelly, PsyD

Sarah Kelly, PsyD

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Melanie Everitt, MD

Melanie Everitt, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Children's Colorado in the news

9News

Adults find treatment for congenital heart disease at Children’s Colorado

julio 3, 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

febrero 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.