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Exercise prescription in adults with congenital heart disease: a long way to go
  1. L Swan,
  2. W S Hillis
  1. Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Glasgow, Western Infirmary, Church Street, Glasgow G11 6NT, UK
  1. Dr Swan


OBJECTIVE To determine if appropriate advice had been given to adults with congenital heart disease regarding safe and effective exercise, and to assess pre-existing misconceptions of the potential benefits and dangers of exercise.

DESIGN An anonymous self assessment questionnaire.

SETTING A tertiary referral clinic.

PATIENTS 99 adults (57 men, 42 women) with congenital heart disease, mean age 25.6 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES The extent and nature of exercise advice given over previous years; a measure of current activity level compared with the American Heart Association recommendations; and an assessment of exercise limiting symptoms and a description of barriers to further exercise.

RESULTS 44% of the cohort assumed all exercise was safe despite their cardiac disease. A health care professional had only raised the issue of specific exercise advice in 28 cases. Of those given instruction it was more common to receive prohibitive advice (30%) than to be encouraged to take more exercise (19%). Despite this 61% were involved in some form of at least light exercise. The most prevalent barriers to exercise were current symptoms (32.3%), lack of interest in exercise (24.2%), and health fears (16.1%).

CONCLUSIONS The education of adults with congenital heart disease regarding exercise and its potential benefits and limitations is suboptimal even in a specialist clinic.

  • congenital heart defects
  • exercise prescription

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