Congenital Heart Defects Toolkit for Physicians

CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics created a digital toolkit to help physicians promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects.

Black doctor in a white lab coat holding a stethoscope.

Congenital heart defects are lifelong conditions affecting more than 2.4 million people in the United States. As a person with a heart defect grows and gets older, further heart problems may occur. Additional medications, surgeries, or other procedures may be needed after initial surgeries or procedures during childhood. Unfortunately, it’s common for people with heart defects to fall out of cardiac care starting as early as childhood.

Physicians play an important role in ensuring people with heart defects get the specialized lifelong cardiac care they need to stay healthy. As people with heart defects receive medical care for other reasons—checkups, sick care, or for life events such as pregnancy—these providers can discuss the need for cardiac care with them.

In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC created a digital toolkit with resources for physicians to help ensure that people with heart defects get the specialized lifelong care they need. The toolkit contains social media materials, customizable content for emails and newsletters, conversation starters, and infographics. Click on each of the medical specialties below to access and download custom resources to promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects.

Resources for Pediatricians and Family Medicine Physicians

Black pediatrician in a white lab coat using a stethoscope to listen to a child’s heart.

Children with heart defects need to see a pediatric cardiologist regularly to stay healthy as they grow. As a pediatrician or family medicine physician, you play an important role in connecting children with heart defects to the care they need.

Take these steps to connect children with heart defects to congenital cardiac care:

  1. Ask parents and caregivers if children are seeing a pediatric cardiologist. If a child isn’t, explain why lifelong congenital cardiac care is important.
  2. Refer children who aren’t getting care to a pediatric cardiologist.

It’s also important to help teens with heart defects transition to adult congenital cardiac care. Take these steps to connect teens with heart defects to congenital cardiologists who treat adults:

  1. Tell teens they’ll need lifelong congenital cardiac care to stay healthy in adulthood. Explain that many pediatric cardiologists can only see them until they reach a certain age.
  2. Refer older teens and young adults to a congenital cardiologist who sees adults. If you need help finding congenital cardiologists for adults in your area, check out the ACHD Clinic Directory.

Download and share these resources to promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects:

Social Media Graphic 1
Social Media Graphic 2
Social Media Graphic 3

How to Talk to Parents About Congenital Cardiac Care for Children with Heart Defects [786 KB, 2 Pages, 508]
Congenital Heart Defects: Make Sure Children Get the Care They Need [783 KB, 1 Page, 508]
Materials for pediatricians and family physicians who treat children [188 KB, 6 Page, 508]

Resources for Obstetrician-Gynecologists

Physician wearing navy blue scrubs holding a stethoscope to a pregnant person’s belly.

People who were born with heart defects need lifelong congenital cardiac care—but many of them aren’t getting it. As an obstetrician-gynecologist, you see patients at many life stages, and you may be the only physician some of your patients see. That means you play an important role in connecting people with heart defects to the care they need to stay healthy.

Take these steps to connect people with heart defects to a congenital cardiologist:

  1. Ask patients if they have a history of heart problems; you might have patients with heart defects who’ve never mentioned they have one.
  2. Ask patients with heart defects if they’re seeing a congenital cardiologist. If they’re not, explain why lifelong congenital cardiac care is important.
  3. Refer patients who aren’t getting the care they need to a congenital cardiologist. If you need help finding congenital cardiologists in your area, check out the ACHD Clinic Directory.

Download and share these resources to promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects:

Social Media Graphic 1
Social Media Graphic 2

How to Talk to People with Congenital Heart Defects About Lifelong Cardiac Care [777 KB, 2 Pages, 508]
Materials for OB-GYNs [201 KB, 2 Pages, 508]

Resources for Internal Medicine Physicians

An internal medicine physician in a white lab coat discussing a patient’s results.

Congenital heart defects are lifelong conditions. That means adults who were born with heart defects need to see a congenital cardiologist regularly to stay healthy. But many of them aren’t getting cardiac care at all. As a primary care physician, you play an important role in connecting people with heart defects to the care they need.

Take these steps to connect adults with congenital heart defects to congenital cardiac care:

  1. Ask patients if they have a history of heart problems; you might have patients with heart defects who’ve never mentioned they have one.
  2. Ask patients with heart defects if they’re seeing a congenital cardiologist. If they’re not, explain why lifelong congenital cardiac care is important.
  3. Talk to young patients with heart defects about transitioning from a pediatric cardiologist to an adult congenital cardiologist.
  4. Refer patients who aren’t getting the care they need to a congenital cardiologist. If you need help finding congenital cardiologists in your area, check out the ACHD Clinic Directory.

Download and share these resources to promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects:

Social Media Graphic 1
Social Media Graphic 2
Social Media Graphic 3

[How to Talk to Adults with Congenital Heart Defects About Lifelong Cardiac Care [871 KB, 2 Pages, 508]]
Infographic [690 KB, 1 Page, 508]
[Materials for internal medicine and family physicians who treat adults [207 KB, 6 Pages, 508]]

Resources for Emergency Medicine Physicians

An emergency medicine physician in a white lab coat talking to a patient in a hospital bed.

People who were born with heart defects need lifelong congenital cardiac care—but many of them aren’t getting it. As an emergency room physician, you can help change this. When people with heart defects visit the emergency room—for any reason—you have an opportunity to connect them to congenital cardiac care.

Take these steps to help people with heart defects get the care they need:

  1. Ask patients or their caregivers about a history of heart problems. They may not mention it unless you ask.
  2. Ask adults with heart defects if they’re seeing a congenital cardiologist. And for children with heart defects, ask their caregivers if they’re seeing a pediatric cardiologist. If they’re not, explain why lifelong congenital cardiac care is important.
  3. Refer adults who aren’t getting the care they need to a congenital cardiologist. If you need help finding adult congenital cardiologists in your area, check out the ACHD Clinic Directory. Refer children who aren’t getting the care they need to a pediatric cardiologist.

Download and share these resources to promote lifelong congenital cardiac care for people with heart defects:

Social Media Graphic 1
Social Media Graphic 2

How to Talk to Parents and Caregivers About Congenital Cardiac Care for Children with Heart Defects [811 KB, 2 Pages, 508]
How to Talk to Adults with Congenital Heart Defects About Lifelong Cardiac Care [785 KB, 2 Pages, 508]
Materials for emergency room physicians [188 KB, 7 Pages, 508]