Generally, a doctor shortage isn’t good news. But a recent report from Washington D.C.’s WTOP on a doctor deficit has me smiling.
Right now doctors trained to treat adult congenital heart defects are struggling to keep up with their patient loads. I definitely have sympathy for the busy doctors and anyone having trouble scheduling an appointment, but I can’t help celebrating the good news hidden in there: People with congenital heart defects are living longer.
In under a century the stats on CHD mortality have improved drastically. How drastically? The article reports that in the 1940s, 80% of babies born with CHD died before adulthood. Now, 90% of babies born with CHD live into old age.
Previously specializing in adult CHD was impractical; you just wouldn’t have many patients. The rapid improvement of surgical techniques and technology that are helping our loved ones lead longer lives has also led to a medical training gap. With an adult CHD specialty being more practical, that should mean more doctors soon.
WTOP brought up another interesting statistic: Hospital admission for patients with adult CHD increased 101% from 1998 to 2005. The hypothesis is that with many patients living longer (and often healthier) lives, patients don’t always keep up cardiac visits after childhood. Early detection is always best, so even if you’re feeling great, don’t skip your checkups.
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