Despite the overall improvement in life expectancy of patients living with congenital heart disease (congenital HD), disparities in morbidity and mortality remain throughout the lifespan. Longstanding systemic inequities, disparities in the social determinants of health, and the inability to obtain quality lifelong care contribute to poorer outcomes. To work toward health equity in populations with congenital HD, we must recognize the existence and strategize the elimination of inequities in overall congenital HD morbidity and mortality, disparate health care access, and overall quality of health services in the context of varying social determinants of health, systemic inequities, and structural racism. This requires critically examining multilevel contributions that continue to facilitate health inequities in the natural history and consequences of congenital HD. In this scientific statement, we focus on population, systemic, institutional, and individual-level contributions to health inequities from prenatal to adult congenital HD care. We review opportunities and strategies for improvement in lifelong congenital HD care based on current public health and scientific evidence, surgical data, experiences from other patient populations, and recognition of implicit bias and microaggressions. Furthermore, we review directions and goals for both quantitative and qualitative research approaches to understanding and mitigating health inequities in congenital HD care. Finally, we assess ways to improve the diversity of the congenital HD workforce as well as ethical guidance on addressing social determinants of health in the context of clinical care and research.
- AHA Scientific Statements
- health inequities
- heart defects
- social determinants of health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine