Deaths From Congenital Heart Defects on the
MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths from congenital heart
defects in the United States fell 24 percent from 1999 to 2006,
continuing a decades-long decline, a new study finds.
Congenital heart defects are structural abnormalities of the
heart at birth. These include a variety of conditions that range
from mild to severe and can increase the risk for problems such as
irregular heartbeats, congestive heart failure and high blood
pressure in arteries that supply blood to the lungs.
The new study was led by Suzanne Gilboa, an epidemiologist at
the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental
Disabilities, part of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). The findings were published Nov. 22 in the
Gilboa and her colleagues found that in 2006 a congenital heart
defect was the underlying cause of 27,960 deaths, a rate of 1.2
deaths per 100,000 people. Infants accounted for 48 percent of the
Among the study's other findings:
- Blacks had the highest rate of death from congenital heart
- There was a 15 percent decline in the death rate for all
racial/ethnic groups other than whites, who had a decline of more
than 25 percent.
- Males had a higher death rate than females, except in people
over age 65.
- The most common fatal congenital heart defect (about 10 percent
of cases) was hypoplastic left heart syndrome, an underdeveloped
left side of the heart.
Gilboa's team said that it's not clear why the drop in deaths
occurred, but advances in technology, leading to better diagnosis
and treatment, probably played a role.
The latest findings seem to continue a trend: research published
in 2001 found that deaths from congenital heart defects decreased
39 percent between 1979 and 1997.
The March of Dimes has more about
congenital heart defects.
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