Adult patients with congenital heart disease in the intensive care unit


Current data on intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in patients with adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) are limited and focus on admissions after elective cardiac surgery. This study describes non-elective ICU admissions in patients with ACHD.


A retrospective matched cohort study was performed from January 2000 until December 2015 in a tertiary care centre ICU (there was no cardiac care unit). Primary outcomes were short-term (during hospital stay or <30 days after discharge) and long-term (>30 days after discharge until end of follow-up) mortality. Outcomes were compared with non-ACHD non-elective ICU admissions, matched 1:1 on age, sex and admission diagnosis.


A total of 138 admissions in 104 patients with ACHD (65.9% male, median age 30 years) were included, during 8.6 years of follow-up. The majority had a moderate-to-severe heart defect. Arrhythmia was the most common admission diagnosis (44.2%), followed by haemorrhage (10.9%), heart failure (8.7%) and pulmonary disease (8.7%). Short-term mortality and total mortality were lower in the ACHD admissions than in the non-ACHD admissions (4.8% vs 16.3%, p=0.005 and 17.3% vs 28.9%, p=0.030), whereas long-term (12.5% vs 12.6%, p=0.700) did not differ. Severe CHD (HR 3.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 8.6) at baseline, and mechanical circulatory support device use (8.3, 1.4 to 47.4) and emergency intervention (0.2, 0.1 to 0.7) during the ICU stay were independently associated with mortality in the ACHD group.


Non-elective ICU admissions in patients with ACHD are most often for arrhythmia and in patients with moderate-to-severe CHD. Reassuringly, short-term and total mortality are lower compared with patients without ACHD, however, long-term mortality is higher than expected for patients with ACHD.

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