Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program Expands with Newly Recruited Specialist

Jorge R. Alegría, MD

Jorge R. Alegría, MD
Sanger Heart &
Vascular Institute

Jorge R. Alegría, MD, joined Carolinas HealthCare System's Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in September as the first formally trained adult congenital heart disease doctor in the greater Charlotte region. Dr. Alegría is one of only approximately 60 adult congenital heart disease trained specialists in the nation.

"A significant challenge that we are seeing throughout the nation is that adults with congenital heart diseases are not being followed by specialized centers, as recommended by the American College of Cardiology," said Dr. Alegría. "I look forward to working with the team at Carolinas HealthCare System to provide a multidisciplinary type of care to this growing population of patients and address their unique needs."

Over the past five decades, advances in pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery have resulted in an increasing number of children with complex congenital heart disease surviving into adulthood, creating a need for multidisciplinary programs that can evaluate, follow and treat their unique needs as adults. Sanger established a formal adult congenital disease program in 2005, led by Donald Riopel, MD, pediatric cardiologist, and Geoffrey Rose, MD, FACC, FASE, adult cardiologist, who worked jointly to treat these patients.

Dr. Alegría will work closely with pediatric and adult cardiologists, congenital heart surgeons and physicians at Levine Children's Hospital and Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute to provide adult congenital heart disease care.

According to the Adult Congential Heart Association, there are an estimated one million adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD) in the United States. Compared to prior years when many children diagnosed with CHD were not surviving into adulthood, the number of adult patients with CHD is outgrowing the number of children living with the disease. More than half of these patients require on-going care, which makes the need for an adult congenital heart disease physician essential for long-term success. Carolinas HealthCare System is one of the few healthcare systems that combines an advanced U.S. News & World Report-ranked pediatric cardiac surgery program with a leading heart and vascular institute, and an adult congenital heart disease specialist to bridge the two.

Prior to joining Sanger, Dr. Alegría practiced at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. Dr. Alegría received his medical degree in Concepcion, Chile, and later completed his residency in internal medicine, along with his fellowships in cardiovascular diseases, interventional cardiology and adult congenital heart diseases, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.