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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Small atrial septal defects are associated with psychiatric diagnoses, emotional distress, and lower educational levels

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OBJECTIVE: For the first time, we wish to assess the psychiatric burden in adult patients living with small, unrepaired atrial septal defects (ASD) using register-based data, combined with self-reported measures on levels emotional distress and educational status.

DESIGN: A descriptive study using both the unique Danish registries and validated psychiatric questionnaires and scales, including: The Symptom Checklist, Whiteley-7, and Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire.

PATIENTS: Adult patients with small, unrepaired ASD, diagnosed between 1953 and 2011.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of register-based psychiatric diagnoses. Additionally, symptoms of anxiety, depression, somatization, health anxiety, illness perception, and levels of educational attainment compared to age- and gender-matched individuals from the reference group.

RESULTS: We identified 723 Danish patients with a small, unrepaired ASD. Approximately 17% of the patients eligible for inclusion had one or more psychiatric diagnoses. The most common diagnoses were neurotic, stress-related, and somatoform disorders. A total of 140 patients (mean age 33 years) was included for examination of their mental health using psychiatric questionnaires and scales. Patients with small ASD had higher scores of depression and anxiety when compared to the reference group (0.57 ± 0.67 vs 0.39 ± 0.52; P < .001). Furthermore, patients reported more symptoms of somatization (0.51 ± 0.48 vs 0.34 ± 0.39; P < .001). Finally, a higher percentage of patients with an unrepaired ASD had no education beyond high school when compared to the reference group (33.3% vs 14.3%; P < .001) and a smaller proportion of patients had completed a short-cycle higher education (6.5% vs 16.1%; P = .002).

CONCLUSION: Patients with a small, unrepaired ASD in adult life have more symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatization compared to the reference group. Furthermore, fewer patients had no education beyond high school. These results support the guidelines that adults with small ASD warrants regular lifelong follow-up in specialized clinics aware of not only adverse somatic outcome but also rates of depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCongenital Heart Disease
Volume14
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)803-810
Number of pages8
ISSN1747-079X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 57369721