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Heart Watch Blog: Adults With History Of Childhood Heart Repairs

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Jan 24, 2006

Adults With History Of Childhood Heart Repairs

Adults With History Of Childhood Heart Repairs
Normal structure of heart
Open-heart surgeries were not very common until 1970s, and the introduction of procedure had brought a radical change in the management of childhood heart defects. Many of these heart defects were surgically corrected or repaired. It is estimated that up to 1 million people born with once-lethal heart defects now have grown up. Physicians and these patients believe that these childhood problems are cured as children and some even don't get any follow-ups.

Expert cardiologists are now warning that survivor of these childhood heart defect repair surgeries should not be considered as cured. As adults they present a challenge to the cardiologists, since they can present with various complications including irregularities of heart beat. Few cardiologists outside of children's hospitals have any idea how to care for these patients who had surgical repair of heart defects.

"The disease as an adult is completely different than the other kinds of heart disease adults get," warns Dr. Karen Kuehl, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

"Here are people in their early young adulthood who have thought that they went through this (childhood surgery) .... and they were going to be fine. In fact, we don't know that," Kuehl adds. "Now we're seeing things nobody would have predicted."

Only recently have enough of the early survivors reached adulthood for doctors to notice a disturbing trend: Starting about 20 years after childhood surgery, the risk for some serious problems like irregular heartbeats, enlarged hearts, heart failure, occasionally even sudden death begins to rise among people who had complex defects repaired.

In adults if such problems are caught early, many are treatable or, better, preventable. Many times the problems go too far advancer and such patients may have serious damage to the heart and heart transplant may be the only remaining option of treatment, says Dr. Roberta Williams of the American College of Cardiology.


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Heart disease
About 13 million Americans (about 7 percent of the total population) suffer from coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in American men and women amounting a staggering 20 percent of all causes of death. About half of all deaths related to cardiovascular diseases occur from coronary artery disease. Through this heart watch blog we will have our humble contribution towards making men and women aware of the risks of heart diseases.

Heart Watch Blog: Adults With History Of Childhood Heart Repairs

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