In this week’s Making the Rounds interview, we caught up with Dr. Andrew Leventhal, director of the Kentucky Adult Congenital Heart Program at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Leventhal is one of the nation’s few adult congenital heart disease specialists, helping a unique set of patients who are born with heart defects and who require specialized care as they become adults.
Why is adult congenital heart disease a challenging specialty?
Patients born with heart defects face unique challenges as they get older. They outgrow their pediatric cardiologists, but their heart problems can be very different from cardiac conditions that begin during adulthood.
One of the problems with this specialty is, because they have had good care in the past, many of my patients feel well and don’t necessarily think they need follow-up care. That’s why we make such a great effort to go out into the community and make sure these patients understand that they do need to see doctors for the rest of their lives.
What can a patient expect during their first appointment with you?
Many of my patients had surgery when they were children, so we talk a lot about their past. Even though they may be young, they actually have a fairly extensive medical history.
We really start at the beginning and go through their lives to make sure we have a very accurate perception of what they’ve had done in the past and where they are now.
What inspires you?
When I get up in the morning and I see my patients and see what they’re going through, that’s very inspiring. And the work ethic of my colleagues here at UK is quite inspiring, too.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?
I’d be coaching baseball somewhere.
What do you enjoy most about living in Lexington?
I like that fact that it’s a city, but it has a small-town feel. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
My wife and I very commonly will go out on the weekends into farm country just to drive around and really wonder at how nice of a place it is here.
Check out our video interview with Dr. Leventhal, where he explains how exciting new treatment options are helping patients feel better faster.