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TUESDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors should transition their patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) from pediatric to adult medical care during early adolescence, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published online Feb. 28 in Circulation.
Craig Sable, M.D., from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues started analyzing literature in 2008 on behalf of the AHA Congenital Heart Defects Committee of the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young. They identified the most effective practices of transferring CHD patients from pediatric to adult medical care.
The researchers recommend that transition from pediatric to adult medical care should start when patients are aged between 12 and 14 and it should be a joint effort between the health care provider, the patient, and the patient's family. The process should include selecting an adult care physician, offering reproductive, genetic and career counseling, securing health insurance, and educating adult health care providers regarding the management of CHD. The authors stress the importance of maintaining communication between patients, families, and health care professionals.
"Because increasing numbers of young people with complex congenital illnesses are surviving into adulthood, there is an urgent need for programs designed to facilitate their smooth movement from pediatric to adult health care environments. It is hoped that in the near future, transition programs will become the standard of care, making it more likely that patients with complex chronic illness can achieve their full potential under appropriate medical surveillance and live meaningful and productive lives," the authors write.
One of the study writers disclosed financial relationships with the medical device industry.
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