Advanced Treatment for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

If you’re living with congenital heart disease (CHD), you can take comfort knowing that advanced treatment options and services you might need are available close to home. The team at the Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center is trained and experienced in the latest techniques. In fact, many of our team members have helped develop and refine them.

The Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center offers a variety of treatment options. Our team will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your specific needs.

Treatment & Services

In years past, surgical innovations began saving the lives of people born with heart defects. Today, medical and therapeutic advances are helping adults with congenital heart defects live the healthiest lives possible. In many cases, care from a specialized adult CHD center offers care coordination and treatment options that are critical for well-being and long-term health.

Treating or managing adult congenital heart disease requires thoughtful and collaborative care from a multidisciplinary team. Our team approach helps ensure that you get the most appropriate care for your specific needs. We work together to anticipate possible complications and take action to help keep them from limiting your quality of life and your future.

Our team provides comprehensive medical services for adults with CHDs. That often includes preventive care and management of complications and related conditions, such as:

  • Arrythmia – Abnormal heart rhythm is a common complication of some kinds of congenital heart defects. We offer treatment ranging from medication to surgery if needed.
  • Pulmonary hypertension – This type of high blood pressure only affects arteries in the lungs. It can be a complication of untreated CHDs, or in some cases, even those that have been repaired or treated. A variety of oral, inhaled and IV medicines can treat this condition, to help you live a longer, healthier life.
  • Chronic cyanosis and erythrocytosis – Cyanosis is a bluish discoloration of the skin that results from poor circulation or too little oxygen in the blood. Erythrocytosis means that you have an unusually high number of red blood cells. We’ll monitor your blood count and symptoms, and take steps to help you avoid further problems. If you need an intravenous (IV) line, we’ll use a special filter to prevent air bubbles. We’ll also help you prevent or manage symptoms, such as coughing up blood.
  • Advanced heart failure – Heart failure is considered advanced when standard heart therapies and symptoms management no longer work. In addition to medication, our specialists offer a number of treatment options, such as cardiac resynchronization therapy, using a special pacemaker that paces both chambers of the heart at once. We also offer treatment with a ventricular assist device (see surgical and interventional treatments below). In some cases, heart transplantation is necessary.
  • Cyanotic heart disease –  This condition means that you have too little oxygen in your blood, which can give your skin a blue tint (cyanosis). You may need medicine to help you get rid of extra fluids and to help your heart beat harder. Other medicines can help keep blood vessels open or treat abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Coordinated care for liver problems – We work with Emory Healthcare liver specialists to give help manage liver problems that can result from some CHDs.

Surgical and Interventional Treatments

Our congenital heart surgeons perform hundreds of adult CHD surgeries each year, and our survival outcomes rank among the best in the nation. Our surgical team members have also helped refine techniques for redoing sternotomy, complex valve and conduit replacements, aortic root replacements and Fontan conversions.

Our surgeons are skilled in performing the full range of treatments, including:

  • Septal Defect Repair – The left and right side of the heart are separated by a wall called the septum. A hole in the upper septum is called an atrial septal defect, and a hole in the lower septum is called a ventricular septal defect. Untreated, these defects may cause a variety of serious conditions. While the majority of these defects are closed in childhood, many go undiagnosed and require repair in adulthood.
  • Fontan Procedure – This surgery allows oxygen-poor blood to bypass the heart and flow directly to the lungs. It is used when only one chamber of the heart is strong enough to pump effectively.
  • Fontan Conversion – The Fontan procedure, used for years to treat certain CHDs, has now been improved. Over many years, those who had the original procedure may develop. If you had the original procedure as a child, you may develop abnormal heart rhythms and blood flow patterns. If that happens, you may need conversion to the improved Fontan.
  • Heart Transplantation – If other treatment won’t work for you, you may need a heart transplant. Emory surgeons have performed hundreds of heart transplants.
  • Ventricular Assist Device – This battery-operated mechanical pump helps a weakened heart pump blood throughout the body.
  • Pulmonary Valve Replacement – Narrowed pulmonary valves are often removed in childhood to allow blood to flow into the lungs more freely. Without these valves, some blood flows backward (regurgitation). Through the years, this regurgitation can lead to complications, so replacing the valves may be necessary.
  • Heart Valve Repair and Replacement – If you were born with heart valves that would not open or close completely, you probably had them replaced in childhood. Replacement valves often deteriorate with age, so you may need surgical valve repair or replacement.
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) – TAVR is minimally invasive surgery to replace the valve on your aorta. The replacement valve is attached to a catheter (a very thin tube), which is inserted into a blood vessel and moved up to the aortic valve.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-7777. We look forward to hearing from you.