Patients with congenital heart defect and their families support genetic heart research

Congenit Heart Dis. 2018 Sep;13(5):685-689. doi: 10.1111/chd.12630. Epub 2018 Sep 11.


Background: Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects up to 1% of live births the etiology remains relatively poorly understood. Thus, cardiac research is needed to understand the underlying pathomechanisms of the disease. About 51 000 CHD patients are registered in the German National Register for Congenital Heart Defects (NRCHD). Patients and relatives were interviewed online about their willingness to support genetic heart research in order to donate a biological sample.

Methods: Study participants were recruited via the database of the NRCHD. Seven thousand nine hundred eighty-nine patients were invited to participate in the study. Participants have been asked to rate three questions on a ten-staged Likert scale about their willingness to provide a saliva/blood sample and their motivation to ask family members to support genetic heart research.

Results: Overall, 2035 participants (patients/relatives) responded the online survey (25.5%). Two-thirds of the participants are willing to donate a saliva sample. Whereas the motivation to provide a blood sample is slightly lower (patients: 63.8%, relatives: 60.6%). Female relatives are more fain to provide a saliva sample as well as a blood sample compared to men (saliva sample: P < .001, blood sample: P < .01). The motivation to ask an additional family member for a biological sample was significantly higher in relatives (59.2%) compared to patients (48.4%).

Conclusions: The motivation to provide biological samples is high reflecting the need for genetic research to unravel the pathomechanism of CHD. A future aim should be to offer an individual risk assessment for each patient based on the underlying genetics.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Research*
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Germany
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires