Lifelong Support Helps Patients Manage Adult Congenital Heart Disease

UW Health cardiologist Dr. Heather Bartlett explains how the Adult Congenital Heart Disease program helps patients manage their health.Madison, Wisconsin -  Patients with Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) have unique health care needs and challenges specific to their type of defect and can benefit greatly when their condition is managed by providers who offer expertise and ongoing support in the field of ACHD.


UW Health has been providing this expertise for 25 years through personalized, continuous care and access to a wide range of specialists and resources. The multidisciplinary ACHD team includes cardiologists and surgeons, imaging specialists, nurses, genetic counselors, pharmacists, subspecialists and social workers provide comprehensive care specifically tailored for adults with congenital heart defects. The team works closely with primary physicians and subspecialists to meet the medical, surgical, obstetrical and social needs of the patient.


UW Health cardiologist Dr. Heather Bartlett says, "Adults with congenital heart disease face different needs than adults with acquired heart disease and our team has the expertise and resources to care for them." She says, "From MRI expertise for diagnosing, to genetic counselors and highly specialized cardiac surgeons, we offer life-long support as they encounter different phases of life."


Besides continuous comprehensive medical care, UW Health's ACHD's program provides ongoing education, assistance with transition from pediatric to adult care and access to new treatments to help patients throughout their lives.


Focus on Education

UW Health's ACHD program features a heavy focus on patient and family education so that patients know about all of their options and are empowered to advocate for quality lifelong care. Patients also have ready access to their health information through an electronic medical record, giving easy access to test results, diagnoses, and procedures. This ensures that personal medical information is easily accessible when care is needed.


Transition From Pediatric to Adult Care

Transition from adolescent care to adult specialists can be complicated and frustrating. Young adults may wonder if their child will inherit their disease. Or parents may worry about their child, as they make the transition to college or to another town, and have to manage their disease. UW Health's program is staffed with a dedicated nurse to respond to these concerns and ensure a smooth transition from child-focused care into adulthood.


Access to New Treatments

For years, UW Health faculty members have been engaged in ongoing research to help develop the best treatment possible for their patients. Bartlett says, "There continues to be significant advances in diagnosis, imaging–from fetal to adult age, and in minimally invasive therapies and surgical innovations." Each advance translates to more children surviving to adulthood and improvements in quality of life for adults with congenital heart disease. Few defects, however, are permanently cured and many require life-long follow up care.

The program also offers genetic testing and counseling to patients who have a family history or have been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition including chromosomal abnormalities, genetic cardiomyopathies and connective tissue disorders.


Lifelong Care

If you or a loved one have congenital heart disease, you can benefit greatly by finding a provider or health care team that is committed to providing lifelong care and support to help meet your unique health care needs and to help ensure you have the best quality of life possible. To learn more about our providers or schedule an appointment, call (608) 890-5700 or visit


Date Published: 09/23/2015

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