Treatments & Procedures
Adults with congenital heart disease require specialized lifelong care that frequently involves a combination of medication therapy, lifestyle changes, catheter-based procedures, or sometimes implantable heart devices or even open-heart surgery . At Houston Methodist, our specially trained team of doctors works to determine the best course of treatment for each patient’s individualized care.
Management of adult congenital heart disease often requires medical therapy. Several classes of medicine may help relieve symptoms and even improve survival:
- Diuretics, to decrease the excess fluid in the body
- Vasodilators, to widen blood vessels and promote blood flow
- Antiarrhythmics, to help prevent irregular heartbeats
- Inotropes, to strengthen the heartbeat
In addition to these drugs, antibiotics before surgery may be recommended to prevent endocarditis, and blood thinners , such as aspirin or warfarin, may lower the risk of blood clots.
A doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a sensible, healthy diet and eliminating smoking.
It is important to note that these suggestions must be made on an individual basis, and the right approach for one patient may be different from the right approach for another.
During a cardiac catheterization, a cardiologist repairs the heart and its surrounding arteries without opening up the chest. First a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel and navigated to the heart through the blood vessels. The cardiologist then threads micro-sized tools through the catheter to the location where the procedure is needed.
At Houston Methodist, our cardiologists lead the field in catheterization for heart treatments, including percutaneous septal defect closure to treat common congenital heart defects and the revolutionary Melody valve to implant a new prosthetic valve without open heart surgery.
While cardiac catheterization has reduced the need for surgery in recent years, some cases still require open-heart surgery to restore normal function to the heart. Fortunately, improvements in technology and techniques have made heart surgery safer and more effective than ever before. At Houston Methodist, our surgeons rank among the most respected in their fields for a variety of open-heart surgeries.
Certain heart conditions, such as arrhythmias or heart failure, can be treated with devices that are implanted in the body to help the heart function at a normal level. Recent advances in medical technology have made these devices smaller and easier to manage than ever before, allowing the patients who have them to lead normal, active lives.
The most common implantable devices include the following:
- Pacemaker, a small device implanted in the chest to control heart rhythm
- Defibrillator, a small, implanted device that treats arrhythmias
- Ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical pump to support heart function and blood flow
In some cases, optimal medical, device, and catheterization therapies are insufficient in treating a patient with heart failure. Replacing the failing heart with a healthy heart by transplant surgery is a complex procedure, but many patients go on to lead full and active lives after transplant.