Adults with Heart Defects Are More Likely to Have a Disability

Man with heart defects visits doctor

Visit a heart doctor regularly to prevent or manage health problems related to your heart condition.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that adults with heart defects are up to 8 times more likely to have a disability than adults without heart defects. People living with heart defects should visit a heart doctor regularly to prevent or manage problems related to their heart condition and make the best possible choices for their overall health and well-being.

Read a summary of the scientific article.

Main Findings

  • About 4 in every 10 adults with heart defects have a disability, with cognitive disabilities (trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions) being the most common type.
  • People with a heart defect and at least one disability are more likely to describe themselves as having poor mental or physical health.
  • Among adults with heart defects who reported a disability,
    • 5 in 10 were unemployed in the past year;
    • 5 in 10 never received disability benefits; and
    • 2 in 10 had ever been denied disability benefits.
  • Health care providers and public health professionals:
    • Be mindful of barriers that people with disabilities face when accessing health care services and promote inclusion of people with disabilities in disease prevention and health promotion programs.
    • Encourage your patients with heart defects to receive ongoing cardiac care.
  • People living with heart defects: Visit a heart doctor regularly to prevent or manage health problems related to your heart condition.

About This Study

Scientists used data from CDC’s Congenital Heart Survey To Recognize Outcomes, Needs, and well-beinG (CH STRONG) to look at certain health conditions among adults (aged 19–38 years) with heart defects that were born in Arizona, Arkansas, and metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Read project updates from CH STRONG.

About Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are conditions present at birth that affect the structure of a person’s heart and its ability to work properly. Lifelong cardiac care helps people with heart defects live as healthy a life as possible.

Our Work

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) is tracking the number of people living with heart defects to learn about their long-term health, healthcare use, and quality of life. This information can help identify opportunities to support the health and wellness of all people living with heart defects. Learn more about CDC’s research and tracking of heart defects.


Downing KF, Oster ME, Klewer SE, et al. Disability among young adults with congenital heart defects: Congenital heart survey to recognize outcomes, needs, and well‐being 2016–2019. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021;10(21). doi:10.1161/jaha.121.022440