Emergency hospital admissions and three-year survival of adults with and without cardiovascular surgery for congenital cardiac disease

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Oct;126(4):1048-52. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5223(03)00737-2.


Objective: This study determined the quantity and nature of emergencies leading to unscheduled hospital admissions of adults with congenital cardiac disease and their mid-term survival.

Results: During 1 year, 429 adults with congenital cardiac diseases were admitted 571 times, and 124 admissions (22%) of 95 patients (22%) were emergency admissions. Fifteen of the 95 patients were seen for the first time in 1 of the participating centers. The underlying anomalies were Fallot's tetralogy and pulmonary atresia (n = 26/7), univentricular heart after Fontan procedure (n = 25), atrial septal defect (n = 18), Eisenmenger syndrome (n = 12), complete transposition (n = 11), and others (n = 25). Indications for admission were cardiovascular complications (n = 103; 83%) (arrhythmia, cardiac failure, syncope, pacemaker problems, pericardial tamponade, and sudden death), infections (n = 8, 6%) (endocarditis, pacemaker infection, pneumonia, and cerebral abscess), acute chest pain (n = 7; 6%), and acute abdominal pain (n = 4; 3%). All patients required immediate emergency care, and 16 patients (17%) required urgent cardiovascular or abdominal surgery. Six patients died during the hospital stay. During a follow-up of 2.9 years (SD 0.8), 16 (18%) of the discharged patients died, and 2 additional patients underwent heart or heart-lung transplantation.

Conclusion: Adults with congenital cardiac disease often experience serious emergency situations with a high in-hospital and mid-term post-hospital mortality. Care given by physicians with special expertise is important in this specific group of patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Emergencies*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survival Rate