A congenital heart defect is different at every stage of life. This makes specialized well-connected medical care necessary. The new OptAHF special shows what matters., KNAHF | Marek Bláha © KNAHF | Marek Bláha

Press Release | Medicine and Healthcare | Healthcare Research

Who is Treating Your Heart?

OptAHF-special provides information on results of the largest care study

With OptAHF, researchers at the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects have for the first time conducted comprehensive research on medical care for congenital heart defects into old age. The OptAHF project in cooperation with Barmer Krankenkasse, one of several German health insurers, is the largest study in this field to date. The new OptAHF-Special provides information about the results.

What is it like to grow old with a congenital heart defect? Where are the risks? And what do caregivers, parents and patients need to be aware of when it comes to medical care? This is what scientists have investigated for the first time across the entire lifespan as part of OptAHF, led by Professor Gerhard-Paul Diller, a specialist in adults with congenital heart defects (ACHD). For this purpose, the research team was able to draw on routine data from Barmer, Germany's second-largest health insurer.

Something Different at Every Stage of Life

"A congenital heart defect brings with it different risks at every stage of life. In addition to possible secondary diseases, these include diseases typical of old age or pregnancy. Such events, together with the respective anatomical nature of a congenital heart defect, have a different effect on health than in heart-healthy individuals," explains Professor Gerhard-Paul Diller, senior physician at the ACHD Center of Münster University Hospital (UKM). The research results of OptAHF prove this. He added that this also imperatively applies to the respective treatment. "Accident- or disease-related interventions as well as physiotherapeutic or psychiatric treatment must be individually tailored to the patient, and medications must be prescribed in an appropriately controlled manner."

OptAHF-Special: Comprehensive Information for Parents, Patients and Healthcare Providers

The project, which is supported by the Innovation Fund of the Joint Federal Committee, G-BA, is the largest care study ever conducted in this field. The new OptAHF-Special provides information about the results. Patients, parents, health care providers and other interested parties can obtain a comprehensive picture of the current state of research at every stage of life with a congenital heart defect.

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