Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, California have discovered that a baby born with a simple heart defect is more likely to develop heart problems as an adult. This study was published in the journal Circulation on 28 February 2019.
Approximately 1% of newborns are born with heart defects. It is the most common inherited condition. Babies born with holes in the heart or a faulty valve which are less complex defects, usually survive without being aware of the defects later in life.
For the research, scientists extracted data from the UK’s biobank of about 5,00,000 British residents from the year 2006 to 2010. Scientists discovered that about 2,006 people suffered from mild congenital heart defects.
The people who were part of the study were from the age group of 37 to 73. These people for some reason unknown were more likely to be smokers, obese, had high blood pressure or diabetes. Scientists however adjusted these risk factors and discovered surprising results.
Adult survivors of inherited heart defects with fewer risk factors like smoking, being obese or having high blood pressure had better results than those who had high risk factors.
Scientists discovered that people born with mild heart defects are 13 times more likely to develop heart failures. It was also discovered that people born with mild heart defects are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks than compared to people born without heart defects.
Also, it was found that people born with mild heart defects are 5 times more likely to have a stroke. The results also indicated that people with a heart-healthy lifestyle were a third less likely to develop heart conditions as compared to people with five or more heart disease risk factors.
The scientists, could not find a reason for this result. It is still a mystery why people born with heart defects suffer more heart diseases. The scientists, however, make possibilities for this occurrence.
James Priest, senior author of the study said, “Is it the surgery? Could it be the medications? Or is it something intrinsic to having congenital heart disease? We don’t know. We don’t know why infants have congenital heart disease to begin with.”
A further research study is required to better understand why inherited heart defects lead to adult heart problems.
The scientists suggest that the medical community should watch adults who are born with heart defects, even the minor ones, more carefully. Lifestyle changes can be done in order to prevent or delay major heart conditions. Also, doctors can help by providing more supervision.