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Heart defect shouldn't limit exercise

Children born with a hole between the left and right sides of the heart should not be discouraged from engaging in strenuous exercise.

Heart defect shouldnt limit exercise

Children born with a ventricular septal defect (VSD)– a hole between the left and right sides of the heart - should not be discouraged from engaging in strenuous exercise. Previous studies on exercise performance in children with VSD have been inconclusive. To investigate how children with VSD respond to different levels of exercises, researchers from Netherlands compared cardiovascular and pulmonary function and physical fitness in 27 children with VSD and 15 healthy children without the condition. Among those with the condition, thirteen of the children had a clinically relevant defect that had been surgically closed, while in the other 14 affected children, the defect was smaller and was still present or had spontaneously closed. All the children were aged between 8 and 17 years. The researchers combined exercise testing, activity monitoring and a questionnaire to see whether or not children with VSD fell short in their capacity to exercise compared to their healthy peers, and also whether or not these children partake in the same activities as their healthy peers. After adjusting for weight and body fat, it was found that the capacity to exercise and the amount of energy expended in exercise was not significantly different for children with and without a history of VSD. The above findings indicate that contrary to the common belief, children with a moderately severe congenital heart defect - some of whom even had open-heart surgery - are capable of exercising with the same intensity and endurance as children with an uneventful medical history. The investigators emphasise that since this study cohort had relatively mild heart defects, the results might differ among children with more complex cardiac defects and this requires further research.
American Journal of Cardiology
October 2008

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