New Subspecialty Ensures Access to Care for Adult Congenital Heart Disease Patients

Contact: Nicole Napoli,, 202.375.6523

WASHINGTON (Dec. 5, 2012) — More than a million adult congenital heart disease patients in the United States will soon be able to choose a specialist who has demonstrated the unique knowledge and skills their care requires thanks to a new subspecialty certification for adult congenital heart disease approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

“This decision marks a great day for patients with adult congenital heart disease and their doctors,” said American College of Cardiology President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC. “The advances in cardiology over the past several decades mean that the majority of pediatric congenital heart disease patients are surviving well into adulthood and even old age. This is very good news but with it comes the need for a more specialized focus on this type of patient. The certification in adult congenital heart disease subspecialty allows this growing group of patients to have their unique cardiac needs met and lifts some of the burden on pediatric cardiologists who may not be appropriately trained in adult health issues.”

Adult congenital heart disease patients have now surpassed the number of pediatric patients needing care, which was unheard of only a few decades ago. These adults require specialized care throughout their lives; however, only about 10 percent of these patients are seeking appropriate care from adult congenital cardiologists. It is estimated that, at most, only 50 percent of those with adult congenital heart disease receive any sort of cardiovascular care.

In 2008, the ACC’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council, led by Gerard Martin, MD, FACC, spearheaded a multisociety effort to petition the American Board of Internal Medicine and American Board of Pediatrics for an adult congenital heart disease subspecialty certification. Pediatric and adult congenital cardiology leaders Curt Daniels, MD, FACC; Michael Landzberg, MD, FACC, and Thomas Graham, MD, FACC co-chaired the petition writing groups. The ABMS Board of Directors announced today that it has approved the certification.

The subspecialty certification exam will be available in the next two to three years and will be open to pediatric cardiologists and internal medicine cardiologists who have completed a two-year adult congenital heart disease training program.

“Providing lifelong specialized care for all congenital heart disease patients is critical to the health and well-being of each of the more than one million adults currently living with this condition,” said Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council. “This subspecialty is an important milestone in serving these patients and providing them the best possible care.”

The mission of the American College of Cardiology is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The College is a 40,000-member medical society comprised of physicians, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The ACC provides professional education, operates national registries to measure and improve quality of care, disseminates cardiovascular research, and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit


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