Prevalence of people living with congenital heart defects increases 40% from 2000 to 2010

An estimated 2.4 million people in the U.S. were living with congenital heart defects in 2010, a 40 percent increase from 2000, according to a recent analysis.

Of those 2.4 million, 1.4 million were adults and 1 million were children. From 2000 to 2010, the proportion of adults with congenital heart defects rose 63 percent.

Lead researcher Suzanne M. Gilboa, PhD, MSc, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues published their results online July 5 in Circulation.

“This is a substantial population of adults in the United States who have survived infancy and childhood are living with congenital heart defects,” Gilboa said in a news release. “They need the appropriate care in order to have full and productive lives.”

The researchers noted that congenital heart defects are detected in approximately eight to 10 in 1,000 live births each year in the U.S. In 2004, congenital heart defects accounted for more than 46,000 hospitalizations and nearly $1.4 billion in hospital costs. However, the researchers mentioned that there are no current empirical data that confirms the number of people living with congenital heart defects.

For this study, they assumed that the prevalence of congenital heart defects in a recent analysis of people in Quebec was equal to non-Hispanic white people in the U.S. They then adjusted for difference races.

Of the 2.4 million people estimated to be living with congenital heart defects in the U.S. in 2010, approximately 290,000 had severe congenital heart defects, according to the researchers.

The prevalence of congenital heart defects was approximately six per 1,000 in adults and 13 per 1,000 in children. The prevalence was slightly higher in non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics compared with the non-Hispanic black population. More women than men were also living with congenital heart defects (8.03 per 1,000 in women and 7.67 per 1,000 in men).

The researchers mentioned a few limitations of the study, including that they relied on data that identified congenital heart defects using ICD-9 coding, which were more likely to be misclassified compared with using medical records reviews. They also assumed that there was no differences in birth prevalence or survival between the Quebec population and the U.S. non-Hispanic white population with congenital heart defects.

In addition, they assumed that the impact of mortality due to congenital heart defects was the same for all people older than six years old.

“People used to think of congenital heart disease as a pediatric condition,” senior study author Ariane Marelli, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “There’s really no question now that congenital heart disease falls squarely in the realm of adult medicine. We need to have more congenital heart disease programs and more manpower to meet the needs of this population.”