From American Heart Association
Deaths from congenital heart defects drop during last two decades
DALLAS, May 15 – During the last two decades, the number of children dying from congenital heart defects has decreased dramatically, according to a report in today’s Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The study, which compiled records for specific congenital heart defects from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1979 to 1997, found that overall deaths from heart defects declined 39 percent – from 2.5 per 100,000 population in 1979 to 1.5 per 100,000 population in 1997.
Congenital heart defects, which are heart abnormalities present at birth, are diagnosed in about one in every 100 to 150 newborns, according to the study.
American Heart Association statistics indicate that heart defects remain a major cause of death in infancy and childhood, with about 40,000 babies born each year with one of 35 types of congenital cardiovascular defects.
"The reduction in mortality is probably due to improved diagnostic abilities, enhanced surgical techniques and advances in intensive care over the past two decades," says author Roumiana Boneva, M.D., Ph.D., a medical epidemiologist at the CDC in Atlanta.
Most of the decline occurred among children age 5 or younger, but this group still experiences the highest death rates from congenital heart defects.
Among those younger than age 1, deaths declined 39 percent (from 92.16 deaths per 100,000 population of that age in 1979-1981 to 56.46 per 100,000 population of that age in 1995-1997). Deaths dropped nearly 57 percent among children age 1 to 4 (from 4.59 per 100,000 population of that age in 1979-1981 to 1.98 per 100,000 population of that age in 1995-1997).
While death rates declined among blacks, the rates were on average 19 percent higher than whites. This disparity occurred for most types of heart defects and throughout the study period. "The gap does not appear to be closing," Boneva says. "Finding the cause of these disparities will be a crucial step to improving outcomes."
The findings also suggest that healthcare professionals need to be aware of the medical needs of an increasing number of adolescents and adults who have congenital heart defects.
Other researchers include Lorenzo D. Botto, M.D., Cynthia A. Moore, M.D., Ph.D.; Quanhe Yang, Ph.D.; Adolfo Correa, M.D. Ph.D.; and David Erickson, D.D.S. Ph.D.
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