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.
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 www.merlinfitness.com.
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 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.
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