Broken hearted

EACH year, about one in every 100 Australian babies is born with congenital heart disease, according to the peak national charity HeartKids. 

Substantial improvements in diagnosis and advances in surgical techniques over the last 20 years mean that the vast majority of these babies will make it to adulthood. Currently, 64,000 people with congenital heart disease live in Australia and half of them are younger than 18 years old.

But with improved survival, a number of issues are emerging for this growing group of patients approaching adulthood. Do we have appropriate measures in place to manage their ongoing care? And, are GPs and other clinicians equipped to deal with their special requirements?

These are questions Professor Sandra Leggat, head of the School of Public Health at La Trobe University, set out to answer in her white paper Childhood Heart Disease in Australia – Current Practices and Future Needs, published in February.