Pregnancy & Congenital Heart Clinic
Pregnancy creates a unique strain on a woman’s body and on the heart in particular. Women born with heart defects need specialized medical care throughout the course of their pregnancy and delivery to help avoid complications and protect the health of both mother and baby. The likelihood of complications can be high in pregnant women with adult congenital heart disease (ACHD), and can include heart failure, stroke, arrhythmia, endocarditis, and myocardial infarction. Even death is possible in extreme cases. Thanks to advances in medical care, those with ACHD are living longer and healthier lives and, with proper medical oversight, a growing number of women with congenital heart disease are enjoying pregnancies and deliveries that are free of cardiac problems. Still, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend that all women with ACHD undergo a thorough evaluation by specialists and receive a comprehensive care plan.
Led by Drs. Luisa Wetta and Marc Cribbs, the UAB Medicine Pregnancy & Congenital Heart Clinic combines the expertise of UAB Medicine’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine with the advanced cardiac care provided by our Alabama Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. This collaboration ensures that mother and baby receive comprehensive prenatal and high-risk pregnancy care in conjunction with UAB Medicine’s world-class ACHD and cardiac services. A true multidisciplinary effort, the clinic includes physicians, nurses, and other specialists, including pediatric and adult cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, obstetrical and cardiovascular anesthesiologists, and other professionals. Clinic specialists have extensive experience treating a wide variety of ACHD conditions, such as ASD and VSD, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, aortic stenosis, and Ebstein’s anomaly. UAB Medicine is the only hospital in Alabama with the full range of expertise to manage and treat pregnant women with congenital heart disease. The Pregnancy & Congenital Heart Clinic is conducted at the UAB Women & Infants Center, and the staff works closely with your primary OB physician.
UAB Medicine’s Pregnancy & Congenital Heart Clinic recommends that all women with ACHD be evaluated prior to conceiving, but women who are already pregnant (and their babies) can still benefit greatly from its services.
To date, the benefits of UAB Medicine’s Pregnancy and Congenital Heart Clinic have been multi-faceted and have positively affected the patients and their families. This has been achieved through:
- Increased level of patient comfort knowing that her care is being well thought out by specialists in a number of fields
- Education regarding the patient’s particular congenital heart disease in the setting of their pregnancy and delivery
- Creation of a Medical Home – a single clinic where all aspects of care can be addressed
More than 20,000 adults enter the Adult Congenital Heart Disease population every year, but 60% are lost to follow-up care.
Care of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease
Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD)
Marc Cribbs — Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a problem present at birth that involves the structure of the heart, its valves, or blood vessels. It is the most common type of birth defect, affecting about one in 100 babies. Thanks to medical advances, increasing numbers of children with CHD are surviving into adulthood. Common problems associated with ACHD include difficulty with exercise, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia), endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining, often in the heart’s valves), heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, and premature death.