Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Adult Congenital Heart Disease

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The Duke adult congenital heart disease program was among the first to respond to the growing demand for treatment of adults born with congenital heart conditions. Today, we are one of the Southeast's top referral centers, providing care to adults at our heart clinics in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and throughout North Carolina. Whether you are transitioning from our pediatric congenital heart disease program or seeking heart care for the first time at Duke, we help you overcome the hurdles of congenital heart defects and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

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Meet our cardiologists and heart surgeons, view their profiles and select the one that’s right for you.
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Our heart specialists employ the full range of medical and surgical advances to treat a broad range of problems with the heart chambers, heart valves, and major blood vessels, including atrial septal defect, bicuspid aortic valve, coarctation of the aorta, heart failure, arrhythmia, and patent foramen ovale.


Medications may be used to maintain a regular heartbeat, prevent blood clots, improve your heart’s pumping ability, or lower your blood pressure.

Open Heart Surgery

Surgery may be necessary to repair certain congenital heart defects. These procedures are performed by surgeons who help establish national standards for treating adult congenital heart disease.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Small incisions are used, when possible, to reduce scarring and pain and shorten your recovery. We may use this approach to close holes in the heart (atrial septal defects) or to repair or replace heart valves (mitral, tricuspid, or aortic).

Catheterization Procedures

Fix the heart without opening the chest so you recover faster and with less pain and blood loss. Catheter-based procedures include:

  • Balloon valvuloplasty -- expands a narrowed heart valve
  • Closure of arteriovenous malformations -- a substance is inserted in the artery to close off an abnormal connection between an artery and vein
  • Stent therapy for coarctation of the aorta -- a balloon expands a narrowed aorta, and a cylindrical metal stent is inserted to keep the aorta open
Our Locations
Duke Health offers heart clinics in Durham, Raleigh, Cary and throughout North Carolina. Find one near you.


Your diagnostic tests will be performed by experts who specialize in imaging adults with complex congenital heart defects.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Small electrodes are placed on your skin to record your heart’s electrical impulses. The tracings may help identify risk for or prior heart muscle damage.

Stress Test

A stress test is an ECG that’s performed while you walk on a treadmill or ride a bike, or when a chemical is used to stimulate your heart. A stress test is used to monitor changes in your heart’s function when it’s under stress that may indicate coronary artery disease.


An ultrasound probe is moved over the surface of your chest to capture moving images of your heart. This allows us to determine your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

Stress Echocardiogram

A stress echocardiogram is performed while you walk on a treadmill or ride a bike, or when a chemical is used to stimulate the heart. A stress echocardiogram is used to monitor changes in your heart’s function while it’s under stress that may indicate coronary artery disease.

3-D Transesophogeal Echocardiogram

An ultrasound probe passed through your esophagus is used to capture sound waves that create highly detailed, close-up 3-D images of your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

Cardiac Catheterization

Flexible tubes called catheters are guided through a blood vessel to your heart to look for blockages and overall heart function. Contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to capture images of your heart, coronary arteries, and other blood vessels.

CT Coronary Angiography

A contrast agent is injected into your arm and a CT scan produces highly detailed 3-D images of your coronary arteries to help identify anatomy and blockages.

Cardiac MRI

Radio waves, magnets, and a computer create still and moving images of your overall heart structure, heart muscle function, blood vessels, and surrounding structures.

Nuclear Cardiac Testing

Radioactive dye is used during imaging to create pictures of blood flow through your heart. This test may be done at rest or with exercise. It helps to evaluate overall heart function.

Genetic Heart Disease Testing

Inherited heart conditions such as Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos, and Loeys-Dietz syndromes can increase your risk for aortic valve disease. Comprehensive genetic testing and screening can help determine the best treatment approach for you and may help ensure the early diagnosis of your family members.

Electrophysiology Testing

Catheters are threaded into your heart to record its electrical activity.

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Why Choose Duke

Minimally Invasive Approaches, Shorter Recoveries
Our interventional cardiologists have helped advance the use of interventional catheterization for adult congenital heart diseases that have historically required open surgery. This can lead to faster recovery.

Highly Skilled Surgeons
Our congenital heart disease surgeons have years of training and experience treating high volumes of people with congenital heart disease. Studies show that performing more surgeries translates to better results for you. 

An Expert Team
In addition to our cardiologists and surgeons, our imaging technicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others are trained specifically to evaluate and treat structural and functional congenital heart defects in adults. As a leading training center, we share our expertise with doctors worldwide.

Access to New Treatments
Our ongoing research and clinical trials ensure you have access to more treatment options, sometimes before they are available elsewhere. Some of the latest advances include catheter-based devices now used to treat atrial septal defect, two types of percutaneous pulmonary valves used as an alternative to surgery, and the ventricular septal defect (VSD) device.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

More Precise Diagnoses
Our team includes cardiologists with expertise and national recognition for developing and training others in cardiac MRI diagnostic techniques. Because we are a high-volume heart hospital, our cardiac team has the resources and skills to precisely pinpoint heart abnormalities that lead patients to require diagnostic catheterization. 

Comprehensive Care
We offer vocational counseling, cardiac rehabilitation, and assessments for pregnancy and athletics.

Genetic Screening and Counseling
Our genetic heart disease program offers genetic testing and counseling to people who have a family history or have been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition, including chromosomal abnormalities, genetic cardiomyopathies, and connective tissue disorders.

Ready Access to Information
We make sure you are up-to-date on test results, diagnoses, procedures, and more through Duke MyChart. This keeps your personal information easily accessible when you need care.

Reviewed: 08/30/2018