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Am Heart J. 2012 Oct;164(4):568-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2012.07.023.

The prevalence of adult congenital heart disease, results from a systematic review and evidence based calculation.

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Department of Cardiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of The Netherlands, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The prevalence of adult patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) has been reported with a high degree of variability. Prevalence estimates have been calculated using birth rate, birth prevalence, and assumed survival and derived from large administrative databases. To report more robust prevalence estimate, we performed a systematic review for studies concerning CHD prevalence in adults. Moreover, to diminish bias of calculated estimates, we conducted an evidence-based calculation for the Netherlands.


A systematic database search was performed to identify reports on the prevalence of adult CHD. Bicuspid aortic valve, mitral valve prolapse, Marfan syndrome, cardiomyopathy, congenital arrhythmia, and spontaneously closed defects were excluded. In addition, CHD prevalence was calculated using birth rate, birth prevalence, and survival estimates.


Our search yielded 10 publications on the prevalence of CHD in adults. Four reported results from population wide cross-sectional data, whereas in 6, prevalence was calculated. Mean prevalence reported by empirical studies was 3,562 per million when unspecified lesions were included and 2,297 per million when these were excluded. Mean prevalence derived from calculation was 3,536. Our calculated estimate was 3,228 per million adults. Taking these estimates as well as the limitations inherent to their derivation into consideration, the prevalence of CHD in the adult population is approximately 3,000 per million adults.


This systematic review presents a comprehensive overview of publications on the prevalence of CHD in adults. The best available evidence suggests that overall prevalence of CHD in the adult population is in the region of 3,000 per million.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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