Jan. 8, 2007 -- More children born with heart defects now survive to adulthood, suggesting a future surge in heart complications, a Canadian study shows.
Ariane J. Marelli, MD, of McGill University, Montreal, and colleagues analyzed data on congenital heart diseases collected by Canada's public health service from 1985 to 2000.
The researchers found that from 1985 to 2000, there was a huge increase in the percentage of teens and young adults who'd been born with severe heart defects.
The jump was so large that as of 2000, there were as many adults as children who'd been born with severe heart defects.
"The greater survival to adulthood may result in a shift in mortality beyond 18 years of age," Marelli and colleagues note. "This suggests that higher mortality rates can be expected in adults with severe congenital."
Marelli says her findings suggest that in the year 2000 there were 856,000 adult Americans who had been born with heart defects. And that number, she says, is increasing -- leading to what she considers a major, hidden public health problem.
"The increasing prevalence of congenital heart disease means these children will live longer and acquire other forms of heart disease," Marelli says in a news release. "We need to increase public awareness for congenital heart disease in order to be able to better care for the increasing number of young people with heart disease."
Marelli and colleagues report their findings in the Jan. 16 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.