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Exercise in patients with repaired tetralogy of Fallot: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Objective Children and adults with repaired tetralogy of Fallot (rTOF) have an impaired exercise capacity, a less active lifestyle and an increased long-term risk of adverse outcomes compared with healthy peers. This study aimed to summarise the current evidence for the effectiveness and safety of exercise training interventions in patients with rTOF.

Methods PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Web of Science, Scopus and reference lists of relevant articles were searched for prospective studies published by November 2021. Random-effects meta-analysis and descriptive synthesis were performed to assess the effectiveness and safety of exercise training in patients with rTOF.

Results Of the 9677 citations identified, 12 articles were included that reported on 10 unique studies and covered 208 patients with rTOF (range of mean/median age: 7.4–43.3 years). All studies implemented 2 to 7 aerobic or respiratory training sessions per week with durations ranging from 6 to 26 weeks. Meta-analysis of the included randomised controlled trials showed that exercise training was associated with a significant improvement in peak VO2 (pooled mean difference: +3.1 mL/min/kg; 95% CI: 0.76 to 5.36 mL/min/kg, p=0.019). Cardiac imaging studies revealed no subclinical adverse remodelling after the exercise interventions. No serious adverse events including arrhythmias were reported in these studies.

Conclusion Current evidence suggests that exercise training can improve exercise capacity in patients with rTOF with a low risk for adverse events. Exercise prescription may be a safe and effective tool to help improving outcomes in patients with rTOF.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42021292809.

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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