Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Childhood heart repairs may not last

Open-heart surgery for babies and young children didn't become common until the 1970s. Before then, only a quarter of "blue babies" and other infants born with complex heart defects lived beyond a year. Now, more than 95 percent of these "miracle babies" will grow up, living near-normal lives for many years.

Only recently have enough of the early survivors reached adulthood for doctors to notice a disturbing trend: Starting about 20 years after childhood surgery, the risk for some serious problems -- irregular heartbeats, enlarged hearts, heart failure, occasionally even sudden death -- begins to rise among people who had complex defects repaired.

There is a problem in general with young adults transferring from pediatric specialty care to adult specialty care. It's particularly acute for those with complex disorders that are more frequently treated by pediatric specialists than by their adult counterparts, but it extends to primary care as well.

Any hints from your institutions or neighborhoods?



Blogger Nurse Practitioners Save Lives said...

I'm not sure that I have an answer to your question but my mom lost a little sister when she was 5 to a hole in her heart. She was called a blue baby. Nice blog.

7:57 PM  
Blogger mary said...

Thanks for commenting. It looks like you are going into Family Practice? If so, you will be seeing adults whose congenital heart repairs were done in infancy and childhood...and you will remember this post!

Hopefully you will have some cardiologist to refer to who understands congenital defects and repairs of same. Based on current practice, though, it looks iffy.

Good luck!

7:38 AM  

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