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Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Dr. Andrew Leventhal greets a patient.
Dr. Andrew Leventhal greets a patient.

Congenital heart disease is a heart defect — a problem with the heart’s structure or function — that is present at birth. Defects can affect the heart valves or walls, or the blood vessels close to the heart, and they can hamper blood flow through the muscle. Categorized as cyanotic congenital heart disease, which are defects that restrict the amount of oxygen in the blood, and non-cyanotic congenital heart disease, congenital heart defects may be diagnosed during pregnancy, soon after birth or later in life.

If you’ve received a congenital heart disease diagnosis, whether you experienced symptoms or received treatment as a child, teenager or adult, it’s important to follow up throughout your life with a cardiologist who specializes in adult congenital heart disease care. Congenital heart disease life expectancy has improved, and ongoing care is key to living longer. A cardiologist can determine whether you need additional congenital heart disease treatment, such as surgery or medication. He or she can also help you optimize your health with diet and exercise, and monitor you for infective endocarditis, arrhythmia and other health problems that can affect people with congenital heart defects.

The Kentucky Adult Congenital Heart (KACH) Program at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute features a multidisciplinary team that includes a board-certified congenital heart disease specialist, specially trained cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, imagers, echocardiographers and electrophysiologists. Our cardiologists and other specialists collaborate with pediatric cardiologists to ensure seamless transitions to adult congenital heart disease care. That’s important, because your cardiologist will need a complete understanding of your condition and the treatments you’ve received to provide the most effective care moving forward.

The KACH Program team offers advanced procedures in heart valve repair, structural heart conditions and interventional cardiology. Many of these procedures are minimally invasive, so patients experience less postoperative pain and recover faster compared with open-heart surgery. We stay on the leading edge of adult congenital heart disease treatment by providing access to innovative therapies through clinical trials. We also make care convenient by partnering with facilities throughout Kentucky and in neighboring states to offer clinics and telemedicine consultations.

Meet the Director of our Adult Congenital Heart Program

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  • Patient stories

    Congenital heart disease doesn't sideline hardworking dad

    In late 2017, Justin Clark’s fiancee laid her head on his chest and told him something didn’t sound right. This wasn't a surprise to the 29-year-old Ashland resident. He’d been born with an aortic valve that failed to open. At the time, doctors had given him a nine percent chance of survival. Read Justin's story »

    Experimental heart valve turns life around for Manchester woman

    t’s been a year since Priscilla Riley’s life changed forever. Riley, now 71, had been plagued with heart problems for most of her life. As a small child growing up in Eastern Kentucky, she’d had a problem with her aortic valve, the valve that connects the heart to the rest of the body. Read Priscilla's story »

    Team of experts at UK returns heart patient to his first love: restoring vintage cars

    By his 13th birthday, Jason Conn had undergone three open-heart surgeries to repair his deformed bicuspid valve. While he was cleared to enjoy typical childhood activities like skateboarding and bike riding, he was not allowed to play organized sports. Read Jason's story »

    Gill gives Lexington woman, 23, new heart and new life

    Growing up, Adrianne Rogers was an active athlete, pursuing interests in basketball, football, skateboarding and motocross racing. She was skilled enough to play up on a varsity softball team as a middle-schooler. But at age 13, she began to experience an inexplicable decline in performance and endurance. Read Adrianne's story »

  • Why Choose UK HealthCare for Adult Congenital Heart Disease?

    Dr. Leventhal

    Our dedication to caring for patients’ hearts with skill and compassion has earned us numerous awards and accreditations for excellence in cardiovascular care. U.S. News & World Report rated UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital as the top hospital in Kentucky for cardiology and heart surgery.

    We’ve also been recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for quality in cardiac arrest resuscitation, The Joint Commission for quality and safety in our ventricular assist device program and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation for the excellence of our cardiopulmonary rehab program, among many other accomplishments.