Survival rates have drastically improved for patients born with congenital heart defects, but heart failure remains a major concern, according to a recent American Heart Association statement published in the journal Circulation.
Heart failure is a common condition that occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure currently affects an estimated 5.1 million Americans. The condition is even more common in patients with congenital heart disease.
In this statement, experts highlight the threat that heart failure poses to patients with congenital heart disease. Although data is sparse, evidence suggests that 5% of children with congenital heart disease develop heart failure in childhood. Even after life-saving treatments like the Fontan procedure, heart failure may affect as many as 50% of adults with congenital heart disease.
The good news, authors explain, is that outcomes for patients with congenital heart disease have drastically improved over the last few decades. Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment, survival rates for newborns with complex heart defects is approaching 90%. More than 1 million U.S. adults have congenital heart defects and are living longer than ever before.
That said, heart failure often becomes a final complication of congenital heart defects. As such, authors urge future research about the prevention and treatment of heart failure in this vulnerable population. Since heart failure poses such a risk to patients, promoting normal heart function is a major goal for disease management. By improving the prevention and treatment of heart failure, experts hope to improve outcomes and survival rates for patients with congenital heart disease.