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Congenital Heart Defects in Adults - Topic Overview

Adults with congenital heart defects can live long, full, and active lives. But they are different from adults with other heart problems like coronary artery disease. They typically have unique issues with things like health insurance, birth control, pregnancy, and employment.1, 2

Health care

Adults who have congenital heart defects need routine checkups. Be sure you have a primary care physician. You might also need to see your cardiologist regularly, such as once a year.

Employment

Most adults with congenital heart defects don't have limitations on what kind of job they can have. But before you start career planning, get an expert opinion from your doctor about your physical capabilities and risk for future heart problems. With this information, you can make realistic choices and get appropriate training.

Some adults with congenital heart defects may be restricted from certain types of jobs because of the potential risks to others in the event that they aren't able to carry out their duties because of physical problems. But this doesn't mean that you should otherwise be restricted in your employment options.

Although very few adults with congenital heart defects are considered disabled, employers may negatively assess an adult's capabilities because of false ideas about the condition. Become informed about your legal rights. For example, your health status should not be part of a job interview. Also, in the United States, you have some protection with federal regulations, such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.

Health insurance

It is important to maintain health insurance, because you need regular medical checkups.

People with heart defects may have problems qualifying for health insurance. Many companies restrict or deny coverage for new clients with preexisting heart conditions.

If you are changing health insurance plans or applying for new coverage, be aware that you might have difficulties. Research your options carefully before changing policies, and find out whether you may qualify for state or federal assistance programs.

Depending on the circumstances, some adults with congenital heart defects may only be able to get health insurance through an individual plan. Although many adults have some form of group coverage through their employers, they may be placed in a high-risk category and have to pay higher premiums than other people. Be sure to investigate all your options thoroughly. Laws that govern these types of health insurance issues and policies change often.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 11, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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