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What Is the Inova Congenital Heart Program?

Unique program in region helps both adults and children


A congenital heart defect, also known as congenital heart disease (CHD), occurs when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally before birth. While CHD is often diagnosed in infancy, some defects are harder to detect than others and may not be diagnosed until later in childhood or even adulthood. For this reason, Inova Fairfax Medical Campus (IFMC) offers both pediatric and adult CHD care.

Pediatric heart care

For 30 years, Inova Children’s Heart Center has been providing specialized care to children with CHD in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas. The program, led by Co-Directors Lucas Collazo, MD, and Mitchell Cohen, MD, has evolved to include prenatal diagnosis and management. This involves care for both the fetus and the mother if CHD is detected in utero, and women with CHD who are pregnant.

As an added benefit, because the Inova Women’s Hospital is located in the same building as the Children’s Hospital, the program works closely with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to provide immediate, coordinated care for mother and baby in one location.

Adult heart care

Even when CHD is repaired during infancy or childhood, people born with a heart defect need to be carefully followed and evaluated throughout their entire lives. The reason for this is surgery is not necessarily a cure and people with CHD may continue to have cardiac problems. Since 1994, Inova’s Adult Congenital Heart Program has offered complete continuity of care for adults with CHD.  It is the only one in Northern Virginia and one of the first of its kind in the US.

“Greater than 90 percent of children with congenital heart disease are surviving into adulthood,” according to Dr. Collazo, “and with all of their unique problems,  there was a need to form a  specialty program dealing with adult congenital heart disease. So back in 1994, our doctors were visionaries for establishing one of the first adult programs [in the area].”

The Adult Congenital Heart Program works closely with Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, as well as other specialties throughout IFMC, in order to treat the whole patient, even if CHD is not originally diagnosed in childhood or treated at Inova. This multidisciplinary approach is just one example of Inova’s dedication to providing all of its patients with the highest quality of care, no matter where they are in their journey with CHD.

Facts About Heart Care

Learn more about how Inova treats congenital heart disease.

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