Public Health Framework

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Public Health Framework


Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Common examples include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms of CHDs, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed, and/or in the wrong place. CHDs are the most common birth defects. CHDs occur in almost 1% of births. In other words, nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born with CHDs each year. The good news is that over 85% of babies born with a CHD now live to be adults. 

People born with a congenital heart defect and living with congenital heart disease have very different symptoms, risk factors, and quality of life. CHD is a significant contributor to birth-defect-related healthcare costs in early life and increasing healthcare costs among adolescents and adults. People with CHDs face a life-long risk of health problems such as issues with growth and eating, developmental delays, difficulty with exercise, heart rhythm problems, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, breathing problems, kidney failure, seizures, mental health challenges, and increased risk of cancer. People with CHDs are now living long enough to develop illnesses like the rest of the population, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and other acquired heart disease. Read Congenital Heart Defects: Know the Facts for answers to frequently asked questions about CHD. 

Because of their broad impact at the population level, a public health approach is needed to address the challenges of these common, critical and costly conditions. The CHD framework is a public health model which emphasizes monitoring outcomes and optimizing interventions at the population level. Core components of the model are summarized below. Read the full article “Public Health Approach to Improve Outcomes for Congenital Heart Disease Across the Life Span” (J Amer Heart Assoc, April, 2019). Download the Public health Framework Infographic as a one-page document (PDF).

Identify and Investigate​
Public health systems to monitor burden (i.e., prevalence, morbidity, mortality, disability) of CHD at all ages in the population. 

Investigate determinants and modifiers
Population-based studies to identify determinants of occurrence of CHD and of adverse outcomes.
​Develop Interventions and Policies
Unite and align
CHD consortium to inform, educate public, policy makers and health professionals.

Reduce risk 
Public health systems and policies to reduce risk of CHD.

Improve outcomes
Public health systems and policies to improve outcomes in people with CHD.

Equal access 
Public health systems and policies for equitable access and utilization of care for CHD.
​Implement and Evaluate
Prevention education
Public health programs to reduce risk of CHD.

Quality Care 
Healthcare delivery system provides high quality care for people with CHD.
Public health programs link people with CHD to health care and ancillary services.

Public health data to monitor and evaluate policies, systems and outcomes for people with CHD.

​Call to Action

The Congenital Heart Public Health Consortium steering committee is committee to a sustained and synergistic approach to advancing public health outcomes for people with CHD. Annually the national non-profit organizations and four federal agencies involved in the leadership of the Congenital Heart Public Health Consortium (CHPHC) that each organization contributes to addressing the gaps and opportunities presented in the public health for congenital heart disease framework. The result is a matrix of programs and services that, when working together, respond to all the components of the framework.

Things you can do to support public health outcomes for people with CHD
  • Register for the CHPHC Webinar scheduled for Thursday, September 12 at 1 pm ET. 

  • Read the article “Public Health Approach to Improve Outcomes for Congenital Heart Disease Across the Life Span.”

  • Learn the facts about congenital heart defects. 

  • Tweet your commitment to CHD public health in recognition of World Heart Day on September 29. Use #CHDcare4Life to add your voice to conversation as initiated by the CHPHC member organizations. 

  • Participate and engage in the education and awareness activities convened by the member organizations of the CHPHC.

  • Join the CHPHC to receive monthly communication alerts about congenital heart defects and information and activities to improve outcomes for affected children and adults. 

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