Thursday, March 20, 2008
Medical Reports: Congenital Heart Disease
We normally think about babies when we hear about congenital heart disease, but doctors say there's a growing number of adults with this condition who don't know where to turn for the proper treatment. Seven's Diana Diaz has more in tonight's Medical Report.
WSVN -- About five years ago, 30-year-old Dannette Merit was feeling tired all the time and suffered from headaches.
Dannette Merit: "I couldn't concentrate. I didn't know what was wrong with me. At any moment I felt like I was going to pass out."
Fifty-six-year-old Margarita Orta was suffering with similar symptoms.
Margarita Orta: "I started to feel like I was passing out, extremely short of breath. I couldn't really focus or do my work."
Both women were diagnosed with congenital heart disease when they were born. Dannette was born with a hole in her heart, but doctors told her parents that it would close on its own.
Margarita was diagnosed with a heart murmur as a baby and never had any follow-up treatment.
Dr. Kak-Chen Chan: "As they grow up, we need to fine tune the heart so that they're compatible with normal, active adult lifestyle."
Doctors at Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital say the problem for many of these patients is that if they develop complications later in life, they end up going to cardiologists who treat adult heart problems when they really need to see a pediatric cardiologist. If the condition is left untreated, it could cut their lives short.
Dr. Kak-Chen Chan: "The heart function will potentially start to fail, and their lifespan will be shorter."
About eight out of every 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. The condition may produce symptoms at birth or not until adulthood. About 500,000 adults in the U.S. have congenital heart disease and that number is on the rise.
Dannette had two open-heart surgeries before seeing a pediatric surgeon who finally fixed her heart defect.
Dannette Merit: "I feel great, I feel 100 percent. I can run, I can jog, I have no limitations. I'm on no heart medication, and I just feel like a new person."
Margarita was using an inhaler up to 12 times a day before seeking out Dr. Chan, a pediatric cardiologist who was able to fix the hole in her heart without invasive surgery.
Margarita Orta: "I just don't think I would have been here had I not had this done."
Diana Diaz: "Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital hopes to start a facility just for adults with congenital heart disease, so they can be closely monitored throughout their lives."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Cardiac Center
Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital
Dr. Kak-Chen Chan
Dir., Inpatient Pediatric Cardiology Services
Tel: (954) 985-3437