Congenital Heart Defect Boosts Mortality Risk Later On

Mortality risk increased due to cardiac and non-cardiac causes

TUESDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children who undergo surgery for congenital heart defect have a higher risk of death due to cardiac and non-cardiac causes later in life than their peers who have not had a congenital heart defect, according to study findings published online Sept. 9 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Heta P. Nieminen, M.D., and colleagues from Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland examined the causes of late death in 6,024 pediatric patients after surgery for congenital heart defect from 1953 to 1989.

The researchers found that 592 patients (9 percent) died during the 45-year follow-up period. Of the 474 cases where the cause of death was confirmed by a postmortem examination, 67 percent died due to their congenital heart defect, with heart failure being the cause in 40 percent of cases. There was a significantly higher risk of non-cardiac-related mortality (risk ratio 1.9) compared with the general population.

"The survival of patients was lower than that of the general population (relative 45-year survival 89 percent)," Nieminen and colleagues conclude. "Most patients died owing to congenital heart defects, but non-congenital heart defect-related mortality was also high."

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