By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group celebrating its 20th anniversary is helping patients living with heart defects.

Heart defects are common in newborns, and now millions of adults are living years after their diagnosis. Mark Roeder, President and CEO of the Adult Congenital Heart Association, says many had those issues surgically repaired as children but now face new difficulties.

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“The structural replacements that were made and the structural improvements that were made in earlier operations, perhaps they need to go back in and make additional repairs, some of the other ailments that we face as we age; high blood pressure,” Roeder said. “With this population they’re especially important that they’re monitored.”

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The group supplies education, advocacy and a chance to connect with others in similar situations.

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“When you’re a pediatric patient, mom and dad are there to help make sure you’re going to your check ups regularly, you’re often on mom and dad’s insurance,” Roeder said, “and so as you transition through your college years and into your early adult years, one of the things we focus on is that transition period, and helping make sure these folks do not fall out of care.”