[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Surgical series and some population-based studies have documented a decrease in mortality from heart defects. Recent population-based data for the United States are lacking, however. We examined population-based data for patterns, time trends, and racial differences of mortality from heart defects for the United States from 1979 through 1997.
We examined the multiple-cause mortality files compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC from all death certificates filed in the United STATES: From these data, we derived death rates (deaths per 100 000 population) by the decedent's age, race, year of death, and heart defect type. We also analyzed age at death as an indirect indicator of survival. From 1979 through 1997, mortality from heart defects (all ages) declined 39%, from 2.5 to 1.5 per 100 000 population; among infants, the decline was 39%, or 2.7% per year. In 1995 to 1997, heart defects contributed to 5822 deaths per year. Of these deaths, 51% were among infants and 7% among children 1 to 4 years old. Mortality was on average 19% higher among blacks than among whites; this gap does not appear to be closing. Age at death increased for most heart defects, although less among blacks than among whites.
Mortality from heart defects is declining in the United States, although it remains a major cause of death in infancy and childhood. Age at death is increasing, suggesting that more affected persons are living to adolescence and adulthood. The racial discrepancies should be investigated to identify opportunities for prevention.
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