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Circulation. 2013 Feb 26;127(8):882-90. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.126755. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Abnormal lung function in adults with congenital heart disease: prevalence, relation to cardiac anatomy, and association with survival.

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  • 1Adult Congenital Heart Disease Centre and National Centre for Pulmonary Hypertension, Royal Brompton Hospital, NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, London, UK.



Restrictive lung defects are associated with higher mortality in patients with acquired chronic heart failure. We investigated the prevalence of abnormal lung function, its relation to severity of underlying cardiac defect, its surgical history, and its impact on outcome across the spectrum of adult congenital heart disease.


A total of 1188 patients with adult congenital heart disease (age, 33.1±13.1 years) undergoing lung function testing between 2000 and 2009 were included. Patients were classified according to the severity of lung dysfunction based on predicted values of forced vital capacity. Lung function was normal in 53% of patients with adult congenital heart disease, mildly impaired in 17%, and moderately to severely impaired in the remainder (30%). Moderate to severe impairment of lung function related to complexity of underlying cardiac defect, enlarged cardiothoracic ratio, previous thoracotomy/ies, body mass index, scoliosis, and diaphragm palsy. Over a median follow-up period of 6.7 years, 106 patients died. Moderate to severe impairment of lung function was an independent predictor of survival in this cohort. Patients with reduced force vital capacity of at least moderate severity had a 1.6-fold increased risk of death compared with patients with normal lung function (P=0.04).


A reduced forced vital capacity is prevalent in patients with adult congenital heart disease; its severity relates to the complexity of the underlying heart defect, surgical history, and scoliosis. Moderate to severe impairment of lung function is an independent predictor of mortality in contemporary patients with adult congenital heart disease.

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