To the Editor:
February is Heart Month, during which the public will undoubtedly hear a lot of information about how to keep our hearts healthy and prevent heart disease — the number one killer of Americans. While this is important, I want to shed light on the two to three million adults and children in the United States who live with congenital heart defects (CHDs) — a heart disease they were born with and will have for the rest of their lives. It may come as a surprise that CHD is the most prevalent birth defect throughout the nation.
Almost one in 100 babies in this country are born with some kind of heart defect. CHD requires lifelong care and patients will require care from doctors who specialize in treating adults with CHDs. Fewer than 10 percent of American adults with CHDs who need care from specialty adult CHD centers actually receive the care they need.
For the first time, there are more adults with CHDs than children, thanks to medical advances, greater understanding of CHDs and an increased number of doctors specializing in the care of these defects. With greater awareness and understanding, each and every CHD patient can get the care they need at every stage of their life. Help patients and family members like me spread the word about CHDs during Heart Month and beyond by visiting the Adult Congenital Heart Association at www.ACHAheart.org for more information.
Seana Gallagher, Alexandria