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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Adult Congenital Heart Disease

One in 120 people are born with congenital (or: present at birth) heart defects. These defects range from simple to complex, often present in combination and include the following malformations of the heart:

  • Structural—atrial or ventricular septal defects
  • Outflow tracts—aortic and pulmonic
  • Valves—tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic
  • Great vessels—aorta and pulmonary artery

Prevalence of Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart defects are often diagnosed and treated during childhood, but at least 10 percent of all congenital heart defects are first diagnosed during adulthood.
There are currently one million adults and 800,000 children in the U.S. living with congenital heart disease. Continued improvement in the medical and surgical care of patients with congenital heart defects means more than 90 percent of children born with heart disease are now expected to survive to adulthood.

Program for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

The Program for Adult Congenital Heart Disease at Northwestern Memorial provides consultation and treatment for adults (eighteen years and older) born with a heart defect. We combine the expertise of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from both Northwestern Memorial and Children's Memorial Hospital to create a team specifically trained in treating adults with congenital heart disease.

Marla A. Mendelson, MD, is medical director, working alongside colleague R. Andrew de Freitas, MD, and surgical director Hyde M. Russell, MD .  Together, they lead multidisciplinary staff that coordinates the overall management and care of the adult with congenital heart disease.

Evaluation and Treatment Approach

Patients of the Program for Adult Congenital Heart Disease participate in an initial patient evaluation that includes:
  • Investigation of the original heart defect through review of old medical records, including past procedures and surgeries
  • Thorough medical examination of the patient to identify and diagnose continuing or new cardiac problems
Based on the initial evaluation, we formulate a plan of care, collaborating with a team of specialists in cardiac imaging, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, heart failure cardiology and cardiac surgery. We believe collaboration is important for successful outcomes, so we share the plan of care with your referring physician and stay in communication throughout treatment.

Lifelong Care for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Recognizing that congenital heart disease is a lifelong condition, our program offers patient education and counseling on topics relating to:
  • Living a productive life
  • Finding (and keeping) insurance
  • Exercising and staying active
  • Planning a family and addressing potential reproductive issues
  • Coping with the psychological aspects of heart disease
For more information on adult congenital heart disease, visit the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA).

Contact Us Today

For more information regarding adult congenital heart disease and available treatments, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 1-866-662-8467 or request a first time appointment online.

Clinical Trials

For more information regarding clinical trials related to preventive cardiology, please view the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern page, send an email or call 312-926-4000.

Last UpdateDecember 16, 2013

Referrals &

To obtain a referral or schedule
an appointment:

Northwestern Memorial:

Northwestern Lake Forest:
847-LF-HEART (534-3278)

Northwestern Grayslake:
847-LF-HEART (534-3278)

Glenview Outpatient Center:

847-724-GLEN (4536)