Most adult patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) have reduced aerobic exercise capacity. Their habitual physical activity (PA) level is, however, less well studied. In this study, habitual PA level in a cohort of adults with CHD compared with healthy age- and sex-matched controls was investigated.
Eighty adults with CHD, classed as either “complex” (n = 40) or “simple” (n = 40), and 42 healthy controls were studied with a combined uniaxial accelerometer and heart rate monitor worn during 4 consecutive days. We analyzed: (1) the time spent during moderate or vigorous PA; (2) accelerometer counts per day; and (3) to what extent the World Health Organization recommendations on PA were reached.
Patients with simple lesions had higher total accelerometer counts per day compared with patients with complex lesions and controls (simple lesions: median [interquartile range] 107.7 [76.3-139.1] vs complex lesions: 72.8 [49.2-101.0] and controls: 78.3 [58.7-106.9]; P ≤ 0.001 and P = 0.002). Furthermore, no differences in time spent during moderate or vigorous PA was found between patients and controls. In addition 46% of the patients with simple lesions, 55% of the patients with complex lesions, and 44% of the controls did not reach the World Health Organization-recommended level of daily PA, but no significant differences between groups were found. There were no differences in achieving recommended PA level between patients in New York Heart Association (NYHA) class I vs NYHA class II and III.
Patients with CHD follow the same PA level pattern as the general population. Broad strategies to promote an active lifestyle are needed across the population and especially for patients with complex CHD and impaired NYHA class.