Analysis of adults with congenital heart disease presenting to pediatric emergency departments with arrhythmias

Congenit Heart Dis. 2017 Jul;12(4):507-511. doi: 10.1111/chd.12478. Epub 2017 May 22.


Objective: As survivors of congenital heart disease (CHD) continue to age, healthcare utilization by this population has increased. It is unknown how often these patients utilize the emergency department (ED) at children's hospitals and how arrhythmias play a role in their utilization of care.

Design: Using a retrospective cohort design, the Pediatric Hospital Information System (PHIS) database was investigated and we studied adults (≥18 years) with CHD (ACHD) who presented to pediatric EDs from 2004 to 2014.

Setting: Tertiary care pediatric hospitals.

Results: Of the 6310 encounters to pediatric EDs, 1594 (25%) were for arrhythmias. The median age was 21 years (IQR 19.1-25.1). The most common tachyarrhythmia diagnoses during the study period were atrial flutter (32%), atrial fibrillation (15%), and paroxysmal VT (10%). Bradyarrhythmias represented a minority of total arrhythmias. Presentation with arrhythmias was associated with an increased risk of admission, ICU care, and death (P < .01). Arrhythmias are also highly associated with CHD severity with twice as many complex CHD having arrhythmias compared to simple CHD (P < .01).

Conclusions: Total admissions of adults with CHD from the ED of children's hospitals have increased over time while the transfers to outside facilities remain consistently low. While the population of ACHD continues to grow, utilization of pediatric EDs for this cohort has increased. Adults with higher CHD complexity are more likely to present with clinical arrhythmias but there is a growing number of ACHD patients with simple complexity presenting with arrhythmias in recent years. ACHD patients that present with arrhythmias are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: adults; arrhythmias; congenital heart disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / therapy
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Young Adult