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BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2006 May 25;6:23.

Comparison of the epidemiology and co-morbidities of heart failure in the pediatric and adult populations: a retrospective, cross-sectional study.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. gregory_webster@yahoo.com



Heart failure is a clinical syndrome that is associated with a significant number of interventional procedures and has received a large amount of scrutiny in the adult literature; however, the epidemiology in children is less well described.


We analyzed two large, commercially available inpatient datasets collected in 1997 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: the Kids' Inpatient Database and the National Inpatient Study, accounting for 50% of the U.S. pediatric discharges and 20% of the U.S. adult discharges in 1997.


The database contained 5,610 children and 732,752 adults with a diagnosis of HF. When compared with the adult sample, the pediatric sample showed a higher proportion with cardiac procedures (61.4% vs. 0.28%, p < 0.01), a higher prevalence of congenital heart disease (61% versus 0.3%, p < 0.01), a higher percentage of male patients (50% pediatric vs. 44% adult, p < 0.01), and a lower percentage of white patients (40.9% vs. 65.6%, p < 0.01). Children had a significantly different spectrum of co-morbidities compared with adults. There was no difference in mortality rate between children and adults (7.5% vs. 7.9%, p = NS).


There are significant differences in the epidemiological profile of children and adults with heart failure. Children suffer from different types of co-morbidities and require different procedures in the hospital setting. As such, children with heart failure who are hospitalized may require significantly different facilities, management and therapeutic intervention than adults with similar symptoms.

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