The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have released new guidelines for treating congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease occurs when there is a defect in the heart’s structure present at birth.
Thanks to advances in surgery and better medical care, the majority of children born with a heart defect now survive into adulthood. These guidelines review the latest evidence to help guide doctors caring for adults living with congenital heart disease.
The publication is a major update of recommendations released in 2008.
Here are highlights from the guidelines that patients should know.
The guidelines set up a new way to group adults with congenital heart disease. There are more than 30 types of heart defects, and some are minor while others are life-threatening. At the same time, many of the 1.4 million adults affected in the United
States have no symptoms or complications. All patients are different, so it’s important to capture the severity of their conditions to ensure the best treatment.Based on the new system, patients will be grouped as class 1, 2 or 3
(ranging from simple to complex), depending on the type of problems with their heart structure.
Also, patients will be grouped as stage A, B, C or D based on their overall health and way their heart functions. The new labels will describe patients’ health more accurately and help lead to specific recommendations for each type of patient, experts
It can be hard to decide when to treat patients with congenital heart disease who have no symptoms. The guidelines talk about two conditions that don’t always cause symptoms:
Experts used evidence to create a guide on how to treat these patients. The chart should help inform decisions, particularly for patients without symptoms who are considering treatment.
Go to www.CardioSmart.org/ACHD to learn more.
Read the full text of the guidelines in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "2018 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Adults With Congenital Heart Disease."