Executive functioning of patients with congenital heart disease: 45 years after surgery

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Background: Nowadays, more than 90% of patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) reach adulthood. However, long-term impact on neurodevelopment and executive functioning in adults with CHD are not completely understood. Purpose: To investigate the self- and informant-reported executive functioning in adults with CHD operated in childhood. Material and methods: Longitudinal study of a cohort of patients (n = 194, median age: 49.9 [46.1–53.8]) who were operated in childhood (< 15 years old) between 1968 and 1980 (median follow-up time: 45 [40–53] years) for one of the following diagnoses: atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), pulmonary stenosis (PS), tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) or transposition of the great arteries (TGA). Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult version (BRIEF-A) questionnaire was used to assess self- and informant-reported executive functioning. Results: 40–53 years after surgery, the CHD group did show significantly better executive functioning compared to the norm data. No significant difference was found between mild CHD (ASD, VSD and PS) and moderate/severe CHD (ToF and TGA). Higher education, NYHA class 1 and better exercise capacity were associated with better self-reported executive functioning, whereas females or patients taking psychiatric or cardiac medications reported worse executive functioning. Conclusions: Our findings suggest favorable outcomes (comparable to normative data) regarding executive functioning in adults with CHD, both self- and informant-reported. However, further study is warranted to explore more in detail the different cognitive domains of executive functioning in these patients. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1417-1426
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Research in Cardiology
Issue number10
Early online date9 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the “Thorax Foundation”, “Stichting ‘t Trekpaert” and “Stichting Pieter Bastiaan”.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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