Pulmonary arterial hypertension in congenital heart disease: an epidemiologic perspective from a Dutch registry

Int J Cardiol. 2007 Aug 21;120(2):198-204. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2006.09.017. Epub 2006 Dec 19.


Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) associated with congenital heart disease is usually the result of a large systemic-to-pulmonary shunt, and often leads to right ventricular failure and early death. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of PAH among adult patients included in a national registry of congenital heart disease and to assess the relation between patient characteristics and PAH.

Methods: Patients with PAH associated with a septal defect were identified from the registry. Gender, age, underlying diagnosis, previous closure, age at repair and NYHA classification were recorded. PAH was defined as a systolic pulmonary arterial pressure (sPAP) greater than 40 mm Hg, estimated by means of echocardiographical evaluation.

Results: The prevalence of PAH among all 5970 registered adult patients with congenital heart disease was 4.2%. Of 1824 patients with a septal defect in the registry, 112 patients (6.1%) had PAH. Median age of these patients was 38 years (range 18-81 years) and 40% were male. Of these patients, 58% had the Eisenmenger syndrome. Among the patients with a previously closed septal defect, 30 had PAH (3%). Ventricular septal defect (VSD) was the most frequent underlying defect (42%) among patients with PAH and a septal defect. Female sex (Odds ratio=1.5, p=0.001) and sPAP (Odds ratio=0.04, p<0.001) were independently associated with a decreased functional class.

Conclusion: PAH is common in adult patients with congenital heart disease. In our registry the prevalence of PAH in septal defects is around 6%. More than half of these patients have the Eisenmenger syndrome, which accounts for 1% of the total population in the CONCOR registry. Whether the prevalence of PAH will decrease in the future as a result of early detection and intervention remains to be awaited.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution