Physical activity in adults with congenital heart disease and associations with functional outcomes

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Improved survival has yielded to growing importance of functional outcome measures in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). This study applied the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) to assess self-reported physical activity (PA) in patients with CHD and their association with exercise capacity and health-related quality of life (HrQoL).

Patients and methods

Prior to cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), 786 consecutive patients (335 female, 31.1±11.6 years) with CHD filled in the short form of the IPAQ and the HrQoL questionnaire 36-Item Short Form.


In total, 393 (50.0%) patients reported health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA), 237 (30.2%) minimal activity and 156 (19.8%) inactivity. In comparison with the HEPA group, the inactive group had significant lower peak oxygen uptake (74.2%±20.7% vs 86.8%±22.3%; p<0.001) as well as lower physical (91.0%±16.9% vs 97.4%±13.6%; p<0.001) and mental (97.1%±22.2% vs 104.1%±15.6%; p<0.001) HrQoL. Independent of severity class, surgery, age, beta-blocker, pacemaker and oxygen saturation, the HEPA group in comparison with the inactive group showed significantly less probability for impairments in mental (OR: 0.21, 95% CI: 0.10 to 0.45; p<0.001) and physical (OR: 0.46, 95% CI: 0.23 to 0.92; p=0.027) HrQoL and exercise capacity (OR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.59; p<0.001).


Categorisation of patientswith CHD with the IPAQ quickly provides clinical information as HEPA patients have a less probability for impaired HrQoL and diminished exercise capacity. Nevertheless, the IPAQ cannot substitute an accelerometer-based assessment for PA, nor a CPET for exercise capacity.

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