Children Who Have Undergone Heart Surgery Often Face Increased Hypertension Risks: Study

Young children who undergo surgery to repair congenital heart disease may face an increased risk of experiencing high blood pressure, according to the findings of a new study.

In findings published last week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, researchers from the U.S. and Canada report infants who have congenital heart disease and undergo surgery to repair the defect have a 12 fold risk of having hypertension.

The researchers conducted a multi-center study involving 3,600 children who underwent surgical repair of congenital heart disease conducted in Ontario, Canada. Those children were matched with 36,000 children from the general population, who did not have congenital heart disease to serve as control subjects.

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The study focused on the long-term risk of hypertension after surgical repair of congenital heart disease in children.

According to the findings, children who underwent cardiac surgery had a higher rate of hypertension, up to 12 times higher than children in the control group who did not have congenital heart disease and did not undergo surgery.

The data from the study indicated the risk of hypertension was increased in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a defect where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped severely, and in those who received dialysis during the index cardiac surgery hospitalization.

Overall, 12% of children with congenital heart surgical repair developed hypertension compared with 1% in the control group who did not have surgical repair. Children were roughly 150 days old, or about five months, on average when the surgery occurred.

Comparatively, the incidence rate for hypertension was 141 per 10,000 persons-years among children who had congenital heart surgery compared to 11 per 10,000 person-years for those who did not.

The risk of hypertension was higher among children with more complex surgeries, especially children who received dialysis.

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect. It affects approximately 2.4 million people in the United States. Roughly one in four children with congenital heart disease need cardiac surgery, putting them at much higher risk to suffer from hypertension, according to these findings.

“The findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing the long-term risk of hypertension after cardiac surgery in children with congenital heart disease are needed,” the researchers concluded.


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