Patients are surviving decades after congenital heart surgery (CHS), raising the importance of postoperative quality of life as an outcome measure. We determined the long-term social outcomes after CHS performed during childhood.
Between 1953 and 2009, 10 635 patients underwent surgery for congenital heart defects at <15 years of age in Finland. We obtained 4 control subjects per patient, matched by age, sex, birth time, and hospital district, from Statistics Finland, which also provided data on the highest education level, employment status, marital status, and progeny for both patients and control subjects. We included patients who were alive and ≥18 years of age at the end of the follow-up on December 31, 2017.
A total of 7308 patients met inclusion criteria. Patients had on average similar high school or vocational education rates as the general population but lower undergraduate or higher education rates (female patients: risk ratio [RR] 0.8 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.8–0.9]; male patients: RR 0.8 [95% CI 0.7–0.9]). Patients were less likely to be married or have progeny compared with the general population. The rate of employment was significantly lower (female patients: RR 0.8 [95% CI 0.8–0.9]; male patients: RR 0.8 [95% CI 0.8–0.9]) and the rate of retirement (female patients: RR 2.1 [95% CI 2.0–2.3]; male patients RR 3.1 [95% CI 2.9–3.5]) significantly higher among patients.
Patients who undergo CHS at childhood age are, on average, more disadvantaged from both an educational and professional standpoint compared with the general population, regardless of the severity of the defect.