Cardiovascular risk factors in adults with congenital heart defects - Recognised but not treated? An analysis of the German National Register for Congenital Heart Defects

Int J Cardiol. 2019 Feb 15;277:79-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2018.08.009. Epub 2018 Aug 4.


Background: As adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients are aging, a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors is encountered similar to the general population. Currently, data regarding the primary and secondary prevention of acquired cardiovascular disease in ACHD is lacking.

Methods: The German National Register of Congenital Heart Defects was systematically screened for ACHD patients with established cardiovascular risk factors or documented acquired cardiovascular conditions. Data were analyzed with regard to the according medical treatment.

Results: Overall, 539 patients were included (mean age 38.4 ± 17.7 years, 49.2% female). Diabetes was present in 57 pts. (10.6%), arterial hypertension in 113 pts. (21.0%), hyperlipidaemia in 81 pts. (15.0%) and obesity in 271 pts. (50.2%). 31 pts. (5.8%) were smokers. Coronary artery disease was established in 16 pts. (3.0%), peripheral vascular disease in 9 pts. (1.7%), and cerebrovascular accidents in 141 pts. (26.2%). Out of the patients with coronary artery disease only 81.3% received antithrombotic treatment. Only 18.8% were prescribed a statin. Of the pts. with peripheral arterial disease, 44.4% received an antiplatelet drug, and only 22.2% were on a statin. Patients with arterial hypertension received antihypertensive drugs in 66.4%.

Conclusions: Primary and secondary prevention of acquired cardiovascular disease in ACHD is underutilized. This highlights the importance of educating primary physicians as well as ACHD physicians about the need of primary and secondary prevention for acquired cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Adults with congenital heart disease; Cardiovascular prevention; Comorbidities.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / drug therapy*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Registries*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors