Moving from paediatric to adult cardiac care

Advance preparation will help you get the most benefit out of your visit to the Adult Congenital Heart Clinic at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Allow yourself ample time for parking. If this is your first visit to the Heart Institute, you will need some extra time to find the areas for your various tests as well as for your visit with your physician in the outpatient Ambulatory Care Centre on the second floor. There are volunteers who are available to direct you to your destination. Please ask for assistance.

Make sure that you register at the reception area of the Ambulatory Care Centre so that we are made aware of your arrival. Be sure to bring:

  • A list of any questions you may have
  • Your health card
  • All of your medications in their original containers: include over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins, and birth control medication
  • Lunch or money for food at the cafeteria, if you are scheduled for tests on the same day as your appointment with the physician

Ensure that we have your current and correct information, including:

  • Contact information
    • Full and correct name
    • Date of birth
    • Address
    • Telephone numbers (home, work)
    • Emergency contact person and telephone number
  • Names of current family physician and any specialists involved in your care

Make sure you understand your heart problem and any associated precautions or restrictions, such as antibiotic prophylaxis and exercise limitations. Feel free to ask questions so that you have a clear understanding of your heart abnormality. If you have had tests, ask about the results and ask questions to clarify what the test results mean.

If you need to visit other physicians, you should present yourself to the emergency department, or if you have various tests, you should ensure that copies of the test results are sent to your cardiologist's office. Reports may be sent via fax to 613-696-7218 or by mail to:

Adult Congenital Heart Clinic
University of Ottawa Heart Institute
40 Ruskin St., Room H-3413
Ottawa, ON K1Y 4W7

You can contact the clinic by phone at: 613-696-7078. See Location and Directions for information about getting to the Heart Institute.

The  Prevention and Wellness Centre houses many electronic and printed resources that you can borrow or purchase. Some publications are free of charge. Computers are available so that you may do an electronic search of your heart problem. The Prevention & Wellness Centre is located on the second floor of the Heart Institute, just a short distance away from the Ambulatory Care Centre.

After you have seen your cardiologist and before leaving the Heart Institute, you should make sure that you have scheduled your appointments for testing and a follow-up visit. We can schedule appointments up to two years in advance.

If you are travelling or studying away from home:

  • Make sure you get health insurance.
  • Take your health card with you.
  • A Medic Alert bracelet is a good idea if you are on anticoagulation therapy or if you need antibiotic prophylaxis at times of risk.
  • It is a good idea to ask for a copy of your latest clinic letter and your most recent test reports (echocardiogram, ECG, MRI). It will be much easier to understand your condition and the needed precautions if you have these documents with you should you become ill and need medical attention.
  • If you are planning to be away from home for a prolonged length of time with school or work, ask for the name of a physician specializing in congenital heart problems who practices in that area.
  • Have a wallet card with your cardiologist's name and phone number with you. The 24-hour number for the Heart Institute is 613-696-7000 x13661; a nursing coordinator is available to assist you and has access to your clinic chart.

Until your first visit with your adult cardiologist at the Heart Institute, your paediatric team remains available to you.

We are here to help make the transition to adult care a positive experience.

This information will help explain some of the changes you can expect when transitioning from paediatric to adult cardiac care.

Why must I continue to be followed by an ACHD Clinic?

We understand that leaving the familiarity and close relationships you enjoyed with your paediatric health care providers is a big change. In Ontario, according to the law, once you are 18 years old, your care must be provided in an adult centre.  An adult cardiologist is generally more familiar with adult patient needs than paediatric cardiologists. Remember that regular check-ups with your cardiologist can help to detect changes even though you may be feeling well.

Where is the ACHD Clinic located?

The ACHD Clinic is located at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, 40 Ruskin St., Ottawa ON  K1Y 4W7. Tests including echocardiogram, stress test, CT and MRI are performed on the basement level of the Heart Institute. If you have a pacemaker, your pacemaker checks will be performed in the Device Clinic on the first level of the Heart Institute. When possible, it is best to have your tests done before the day of your visit with the cardiologist. This allows for test results to be reported in the hospital system prior to your visit with the cardiologist.

What will happen during a routine appointment and how much time should it take to complete?

When coming to the Heart Institute, you need to register for your appointment. Registration is at the front entrance of the Heart Institute.

During a routine appointment, you will have an electrocardiogram (ECG). The ECG department is on the second level of the Heart Institute. Visits with your cardiologist are done in the Ambulatory Care Clinic on the second level of the Heart institute (near the ECG department)

During the visit, the nurse will take your blood pressure and check your medications. Your cardiologist will listen to your heart and lungs. Generally, you can expect that the visit will take about two hours.

Must I come by myself to my first appointment?

It’s up to you! You may come by yourself or with your parents/guardians. We are happy either way.

At your first consultation, you will get to know your cardiologist. We will ask several questions regarding how you are doing in your day-to-day life with regards to exercise and sports, school and/or work, which medications you take and your goals in life. 

Feel free to ask us about stress and mental health, travel, smoking, drugs and alcohol, antibiotics to protect your heart, tattoos and piercings, family planning, contraception and sexual health, career planning, and health insurance.

Is it possible for my parents/guardians to speak with my cardiologist even if I wish to be alone while my cardiologist examines me?

Yes.  Sometimes, parents/guardians find it difficult to let their child attend the visit with the cardiologist by themselves. Your parents/guardians can always speak with your cardiologist, preferably at the end of the visit. If you decide to come to your visit on your own, your parents may contact your cardiologist afterward by phone or by email.

How may I ask my cardiologist questions that I do not want to share with my parents/guardians?

You can always speak one-on-one with your cardiologist. We respect your privacy! Without your permission those discussions will not be shared with parents/guardians. 

Do I need to bring anything to my appointment?

Yes. Write down any questions that you may have for your cardiologist. It is easy to forget when you are in the “heat of the moment”. Bring your health card as you will need it for registration. Bring all your prescription and over-the-counter medications.

How can I access my health information?

Your electronic medical record including physician letters and test reports is available to you through a secure electronic health portal called MyChart. You can set up MyChart after we email you an invitation.

Are there others with congenital heart disease that I can talk to?

To connect with others with congenital heart disease in your community, visit the Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance

The local membership email is @email.