Health Disparities, a Serious Public Health Concern

Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect, but not every person living with CHD has the same access to, or treatment within, the U.S. healthcare system. Health disparities are a serious public health issue.

At Conquering CHD, we are committed to educating the community about disparities faced by CHD patients and families. In the coming months you can expect to learn more about specific disparities, and how we can take steps towards change together. Stay tuned to our social media channels @conqueringchd for details; the full campaign will also post here.

As a community, we want to make meaningful progress towards eliminating health disparities. Will you take 5 minutes and complete this survey? Together, we are #ConqueringCHD!

NOTE: survey now closed, thank you for your participation!


Health disparities are a serious public health issue. People living with CHD in the United States do not have equal access to appropriate care, or even equal treatment within the healthcare system. These disparities did not appear overnight, and there is no one-size-fits-all fix.

In order to affect change at the healthcare system level, there needs to be a representative percentage of Black, Latino, and Native American physicians. The American Association of Medical Colleges is doing data gathering to highlight the drastic difference in the healthcare force charged with our care, compared to the general population.In December 2018, only 7.1% of full-time medical school faculty in the United States were Black, Latino, or Native American. 19.2% identified as Asian and 63.9% as white.

In December 2018, only 12.1% of practicing physicians in the United States were Black, Latino, or Native American.

Patients and families of color need care teams of color. At your heart center or hospital, what practices are in place to address this gap? Ask your doctor at your next visit! For more information, visit the American Association of Medical Colleges’ Diversity Report.


In December 2018, only 23.4% of practicing nurses in the United States were Black, Latino, Native American, or Asian.

Patients and families of color need care teams of color. Do your nurses look like you? For more information, visit the American Association of Medical Colleges’ Diversity Report.

Health disparities extend beyond bias and representation, especially in congenital heart disease care. Did you know there are only 450 adult CHD specialists, in comparison to 3,000 pediatric CHD specialists?

These adult specialists are charged with caring for 1.5+ million ACHD patients. The pediatric specialists care for approximately 1 million children with CHD. The adult CHD specialists are predominately available in major urban centers at larger medical centers or university hospitals.

Are you an ACHD patient that travels for care? How far do you go? Join the conversation!

Although the American College of Cardiology issued standards of care for adult congenital heart disease patients in 2008, and updated them in 2018, there are currently no standards of care for pediatric patients.The lack of pediatric CHD care standards adds to patients falling out of care, adolescents not making the transition to adult care, and adults joining the adult medical system with limited understanding of their condition.

CALL TO ACTION:

Parents and caregivers of pediatric CHD patients should ask their child’s care team about standards of care. Does the hospital system or heart center employ certain standards on its own? Is your child’s physician or hospital interested in joining the conversation about pediatric CHD standards of care?

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