, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 1374-1381
Date: 23 Feb 2013

Physical Activity Recommendations for Patients With Electrophysiologic and Structural Congenital Heart Disease: A Survey of Canadian Health Care Providers

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Determining safe levels of physical activity for children and adolescents with electrophysiologic and structural congenital heart disease is a challenging clinical problem. The body of evidence for making these recommendations is limited and likely based on expert opinion, medicolegal concerns, and perceived risks of sudden cardiac death (SCD) with activity. The Bethesda Conference has established consensus guidelines for determining the eligibility of athletes with cardiovascular abnormalities for competitive sports and their disqualification from them. However, literature on guidelines for noncompetitive physical activity is not available. A survey was designed to determine practice patterns for patients with electrophysiologic and structural congenital heart disease. Between July 2011 and December 2011, approximately 350 health care providers working with this group of patients were recruited by email or while attending professional meetings. The survey received 81 responses, primarily from pediatric cardiologists (70 %). The findings indicate that the majority of Canadian cardiac care providers surveyed are only partially implementing current recommendations. Areas of variance included physical activity recommendations for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, long QT syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, and heart transplantation, among others. The development of comprehensive consensus guidelines for activity recommendations was supported by 96 % of the respondents. The heterogeneity of responses may be attributable to conflicting and poorly evidenced information in the literature, a lack of emphasis on recreational activity, an entrenched tendency toward bed rest in the cardiology community, and a lack of awareness by cardiac care providers regarding the actual risk associated with physical activity in electrophysiologic and structural congenital heart disease. A balanced discussion is required in considering both the significant benefit of physical activity in reducing cardiovascular risk factors and the small possibility of SCD in children and young adults with electrophysiologic and structural congenital heart disease.