Congenital Heart Defect Awareness"Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (CHD)" is celebrated during the first week of February countrywide. The 2015 week-long celebration to be observed from February 7th – 14th is sponsored by "The Congenital Heart Information Network". The annual event is a strong platform to educate the public about the frequency and significant effects of congenital heart disease. It focuses on lifelong care for CHDs for children and adults.

CHD is the number one cause of birth defect related deaths that affects approximately 1 in every 125 infants every year in the US. This condition is an anomaly of the heart (that develops during birth) involving one or more portions of the heart to develop abnormally. It can occur in the heart’s chambers, blood vessels or valves.

Generally, most CHD cases are diagnosed before or at birth whereas some are not until weeks, months, or even years later. The associated symptoms include rapid heartbeat, a blue tinge to the skin, rapid breathing and poor blood circulation.

Most complex heart conditions present at birth require lifelong monitoring and treatment by a specialist, even if their ailments have been completely repaired. Cardiologists play an important role in spreading awareness about CHD and the importance of treating these conditions. In a number of cases, lapse in providing specialized care for children or adults living with CHD occurs due to lack of education or awareness about this severe condition. Cardiologists can advise and create more awareness among people about the debilitating and long-term effects of congenital heart defects and educate them about the different treatment modalities available for heart defects present at birth.

The treatment options for CHD vary, depending on the type and severity of the abnormality. Newborns are to be screened for critical congenital heart disease using pulse oximetry after 24 hours of age, before discharge from the hospital as described in the AAP statement, "Endorsement of Health and Human Services Recommendation for Pulse Oximetry Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease" (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/1/190.full.pdf+html).

Cardiologists providing specific treatments must report the same on their medical claims using the designated medical codes. It is crucial for physicians and their office staff to have correct knowledge about the various procedural codes when carrying out medical coding activities.

For instance, physicians have to use the following the CPT codes for "Transcatheter repair of congenital heart defects" –

  • 93580 – Percutaneous transcatheter closure of congenital interatrial communication (ie. Fontan fenestration, atrial septal defect) with implant
  • 93581 – Percutaneous transcatheter closure of a congenital ventricular septal defect with implant

CHD Awareness Week celebration focuses on educating parents and families regarding congenital heart defects, and thereby to ensure that more children with this condition grow up receiving lifelong treatment and care they need.

Let this event be a time to focus national attention on the significant contribution of cardiac care in improving the health of people diagnosed with anomalies of the heart.