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Treating congenital heart disease from childhood into adulthood at Helen DeVos Congenital Heart Center

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Those born with heart defects need specialized, lifelong follow-up care. They need someone who understands the impact of a congenital heart defect, which is different from the impact of developing heart problems as an adult.

Dr. Stephen Cook, director of the adult congenital heart program at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, came on the show to talk about the importance of continuing care for adults with congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart disease is any heart defect that is present from birth. When a baby is born, doctors might not know that the condition exist right away.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. According to the American Heart Association, about eight of every 1,000 babies born in the United states have this heart defect. It's a problem that happens as the baby's heart is developing during pregnancy, before it's born.

Today, about 1.5 million Americans have some form of a congenital heart defect. This number is far greater than the number of children with the condition, and is expected to keep growing.

Medical care and treatment for a congenital heart defect someone got as a baby or child can help make things better, but few defects are "cured." That's why it's important for people living with a heart defect get follow-up treatment from a specialist.

Maintaining health throughout life is a partnership with congenital heart teams because depending on the defect, it can impact life choices, safe exercise, career choices, childbearing, medications, and treatment for other health conditions.

Adult congenital experts at Helen DeVos Congenital Heart Center have experts who understand what their patients had as a child and its impact on the heart and body as they grow. They're one of the few centers in the country that offer a seamless transition of care as patients mature into adulthood.

For more information on the Congenital Heart Center or to schedule an appointment, call (616) 267-9150.

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