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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Established in 1990, the Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program was developed to provide care and consultation for adults (18 years and older) who were born with a heart defect. During the last half of the twentieth century, cardiac surgical procedures, diagnostic tests, and other related technologies have seen rapid growth. Children who were born "blue" due to abnormal circulation of blood through the heart and lungs have benefited from these advances and are reaching adulthood. These adults require the ongoing follow-up care that the Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program offers by addressing problems that may occur as a late complication of the congenital heart defect and/or the surgical repair.

In addition, less complex heart defects may not be detected in some individuals until adulthood. These adults may also seek evaluation and follow-up care in this highly specialized program.

Congenital heart defect problems addressed at the Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program include:

The Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program combines the expertise of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from both Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Children's Memorial Hospital, specifically trained in congenital heart disease, along with an outstanding multidisciplinary staff and consultative services. Marla A. Mendelson, MD, medical director, along with associate R. Andrew DeFreitas, MD, pediatric co-director, coordinate the overall management of patients in the program.

With over 20 years of clinical experience in the continuing care of adults with congenital heart defects, this program has incorporated successful strategies to detect potential problems and prevent future complications. When individuals are referred for care, the evaluation includes investigation of the original cardiac problems through review of old medical records of past surgeries and examination of the patient for continuing or new cardiac problems. A plan for ongoing evaluation and treatment is formulated. This plan is then communicated to the patient's referring physician. Incorporating the patient's referring physician and/or cardiologist into the delivery of care, essentially expanding the "team approach" concept, is highly endorsed and practiced by the Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program.

Recognizing that congenital heart disease is a lifelong condition, the program offers patient education and counseling on topics relating to living a productive life—from managing one's heart problem to lifestyle issues (insurability, activity and exercise, family planning and reproduction) to strategies for coping with physical and psychological problems. Specialized ancillary services that contribute to patient care include:


For information regarding the Northwestern Adult Congenital Heart Program, please call 312-695-2458 or 312-695-4965, or request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateMay 7, 2012