The most common major birth defect, congenital heart disease (CHD) affects more than 1 percent of newborns in the United States. In 2018, NYU Langone was recognized for leadership in caring for CHD patients of all ages, and for research aimed at improving outcomes.
Setting New Standards in Adult Congenital Heart Disease Care
NYU Langone’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program was the first in New York State to be accredited by the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) as a Comprehensive Care Center—the ACHA’s highest designation. Led by medical director Dan G. Halpern, MD, assistant professor of medicine, the program includes three board-certified adult congenital heart disease specialists, more than any other in the state. And with more than 1,600 yearly clinic visits, volume has grown 30 percent since 2017.
The ACHA accreditation reflects NYU Langone’s coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to treating adult patients with CHD, who face challenges ranging from a higher risk of complications from pregnancy or surgery, to a need for preventive care and monitoring for secondary conditions such as arrhythmias, heart failure, or liver failure.
“We collaborate with a team representing every subspecialty that touches adult congenital heart disease, including congenital heart surgery, imaging, genetics, electrophysiology, pediatric cardiology, interventAional cardiology, heart failure, anesthesia, and reproductive services,” notes Dr. Halpern. “This core group meets weekly to discuss challenging cases and develop plans of care.”
Advancing Diagnosis and Treatment of Pediatric CHD
In 2018, the Pediatric Congenital Heart Program introduced a software app that enables video consults between pediatric cardiologists and obstetricians who detect possible fetal heart defects during prenatal office visits.
“The specialist can now see live ultrasound images from the obstetrician’s office over a smartphone or laptop, and analyze them instantly,” says Frank Cecchin, MD, the Andrall E. Pearson Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and director of pediatric cardiology. “Parents receive a cardiologist’s opinion at the moment heart disease is suspected, and we can start formulating a diagnosis and treatment plan at 12 to 14 weeks, rather than the 18- to 20-week period when abdominal fetal echocardiography typically occurs.”
New Facilities and Enhanced Continuity of Care
NYU Langone’s Congenital Cardiovascular Care Unit is the only unit in New York City dedicated to the care of neonates, infants, children, and young adults with CHD.
These patients are now treated at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital—34th Street, located in the new, 21-story Kimmel Pavilion. Open since June, the 160,000-square-foot facility is one of the most technologically advanced pediatric hospitals in the country, with 68 single-patient rooms, as well as imaging, surgical, catheterization, and electrophysiology facilities designed specifically for children. To optimize continuity of care, patients are assigned a single team of clinicians and trained nurses throughout their stay.
“Continuity is at the center of our approach to CHD treatment at every stage of life, with benefits that are measurable in our clinical outcomes.”—Ralph S. Mosca, MD
After the initial intervention, pediatric patients can receive ongoing consults with members of their clinical team at locations close to home—including the Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center, NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn, and NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island (acquired this year). As they enter adolescence, they and their families begin a carefully planned transition to the care of specialists with expertise in the unique medical, psychological, and social issues involved with adult CHD.