Since the first diagnosis of congenital heart disease, medical care and treatment have advanced, and many patients are living longer and healthier lives into adulthood and old age.

All adults living with a heart defect should talk with a cardiologist regularly throughout their lives about treatments, medicines, and the ongoing and long-term care for their specific condition. This is important to make the best possible choices for their health.

The NHS GUCH Guide states that as an indicator of high quality care “All adults with congenital heart disease whatever the level of complexity are seen by an ‘expert’ from a specialist centre at least once. The majority of patients may expect to receive their care under shared care arrangements between a specialist centre and a local GUCH centre.”

When seeing a GUCH Specialist, Cardiologist or GP it can help by knowing your medical history, including the:

Type of heart defect you have

Procedures or surgeries you have had performed

Medication that are currently prescribed for you and were prescribed in the past

Type(s) of care you need

The Somerville Foundation pocket-sized Personal Health Passport can be helpful to keep all of this information in one place. For more hints and tips when visiting your doctor read our pdf ‘Making the most of your Doctor’s Appointment’.

As children transition to adult cardiac care, it is important to notify any new health care provider(s) about their congenital heart defect. Ongoing medical care will help children and adults with a congenital heart defect to live as healthy a life as possible.

Download further information about transition in The Somerville Foundation information leaflet A guide to adult cardiac care.

You can find out more on managing your heart condition, such as Physical Health and emotional health.

Physical Health

We all know that keeping fit and eating healthily promotes a healthy body and mind, but this is even more relevant when your physical health may be affected by your heart condition. How well your heart compensates for its structural abnormalities is, in part, determined by overall physical fitness and health.

The articles in this section look at many aspects of physical health and there are, of course, a few about exercise, written by the wonderfully fit Beth Greenaway.

Born with a heart condition, Beth is a keen sportswoman and her own struggles have led her to have a special empathy with those who are facing their own challenges or struggling to incorporate fitness into their lives. For more information about Beth read her Inspirational Story or visit her website

General physical health advice for those born with a heart condition includes:

Get regular aerobic exercise as prescribed by your GUCH Specialist, Cardiologist or GP

Don’t smoke

Don’t use drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine

Follow a heart-healthy diet

Practice techniques for reducing and managing stress

You can find further information on how lifestyle choices can affect your heart in our Lifestyle Issues leaflet.

Visit the relevant areas using the menu on the left to access reports, articles and stories and post your own questions in our FAQs section.

If there are any subjects you would like to see covered in this section please use our Enquiry Form



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© Copyright 2020 - The Somerville Foundation 2020. The Somerville Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales No. 1138088 and a registered charity in Scotland No. SC049673. The Somerville Foundation is a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales No. 07285409. Registered office at 7 Friars Courtyard, 30-32, Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1RJ