Thrive by IU Health

March 09, 2022

Care for life: Better health for adults with congenital heart conditions

IU Health University Hospital

Care for life: Better health for adults with congenital heart conditions

Having congenital heart disease is a lifelong journey with a lot of ups and downs. The IU Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) team offers patients healing and hope along the way.

As the only ACHD program in the state recognized by the Adult Congenital Heart Association, the ACHD program provides care for all adolescents and adults in Indiana and surrounding states with congenital heart disease. “We are it,” said IU Health ACHD Program Director Stephen Cook, MD. “We are the only major center in Indiana.”

Although many congenital heart defects are successfully repaired in childhood, people with these heart conditions need to be monitored their entire life. Without proper care, adults born with congenital heart defects can face a range of health risks, such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

The philanthropy-funded ACHD program offers patients a team of experts that meet on a weekly basis to discuss their cases. This allows IU Health to provide patients with the highest level of personalized, patient-centered care.

“I think that’s a blessing for our patients,” said Dr. Cook.

IU Health ACHD Program Director Stephen Cook, MD

Equally meaningful to patients is the fact that the program offers a wide continuum of care that caters to their unique needs, including nurse navigators who plan multiple appointments on a single day for patients, so they won’t have to travel as often.

Through philanthropy, Dr. Cook hopes to expand that continuum of care even more by adding a dedicated social worker to his team to help address important economic and social conditions that influence the health of the ACHD community.

About 30% of adult congenital heart patients present with signs of anxiety and depression. Dr. Cook believes adding a social worker to his program will help to acknowledge and address patient concerns.

In 2023, the program will expand with the addition of a new ACHD fellow, thanks to a new fellowship program supported by philanthropy. The two-year program will expose future ACHD physicians to the full spectrum of adults with congenital heart disease.

“I am really looking forward to training the ACHD workforce of tomorrow,” said Dr. Cook.

If you’d like to make a gift to support the IU Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, please contact Senior Development Officer Ashley Pleasant at 317.264.9438 or