If you were treated for congenital heart disease as a child, you know that pediatric cardiology is a robust field. However, it may not always be clear where you should turn for the continued, lifelong care you require.
MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute and Children's National Medical Center have joined forces to fill that gap. Our partnership—the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Center (WACH)—is one of the few programs in the nation that caters to the complex needs of adult congenital heart patients. Locally, we are the only program in the Washington, D.C.-area dedicated to your care.
WACH merges the expertise of specialists at both the Heart Institute and Children's Hospital, building on the collective experience and innovations of adult and pediatric cardiology. Every member of our team has special training with congenital heart disease patients.
Procedures and Treatments
We regularly perform complex procedures, such as
- Atrial septal defect closures,
- Ventricular septal defect closures,
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closures,
- Complex hemodynamic and angiographic evaluations, and
- Cardiac ablations and pacemaker/ICD insertions,
and treat conditions such as
- Coarctation of the aorta,
- Connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome and Loeys-Dietz,
- Single ventricles (the Fontan procedure),
- Tansposition of the great arteries,
- Unrepaired heart disease (Eisenmenger's syndrome),
- Epstein's anomaly, and
- Tetralogy of Fallot.
Broad and diverse network
If you are an adult with congenital heart disease, you must constantly consider your unique medical history in your daily life and when undergoing even minor procedures. The experts at WACH make those decisions easier, by providing access to specialists in other fields, trained to understand your medical challenges. WACH has developed a broad network of health professionals in related subspecialties, including:
- Cardiac surgery
- Critical care
- High-risk obstetrics
- General surgery
Ongoing research is vital to the advancement of this specialized field. We are constantly perfecting our understanding of congenital heart disease in adults, many of whom face an increased risk of cardiac conditions years after corrective surgery.
If you have a patient who has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, please refer them to us. We are collecting data on these patients so we can improve outcomes and share data among cardiac subspecialties.
Specialized medical training in congenital heart disease
Our doctors undergo in-depth training to understand the complex anatomy of congenital heart patients. This level of specialized training is unusual in the medical field. However, for our patients, it is critical to ensure our experts know exactly how to manage complex cases and anticipate future complications.
Our adult congenital heart disease physicians complete an extra one to two years of cardiology training in heart congenital disease. Across the country, there are fewer than 75 doctors with this specialized training.
- Karen Kuehl, MD, MPH, director
- Anitha John, MD, PhD
- George Ruiz, MD
Follow My Heart: Empowering Patients
A key element in successfully transitioning our pediatric patients to the adult congenital heart program is the ability to manage their own care. Developed by doctors at Children's National Medical Center, the Follow My Heart program provides each patient with an online medical record that details his or her congenital heart disease. The patient owns the information and can control who has access to it.
The Follow My Heart program helps patient by:
- Preventing unnecessary testing
- Improving the follow-up rate of adolescent and adult patients
- Reducing health care costs
- Achieving better outcomes