A Guide to Sports & Adult Congenital Heart Disease
Submitted By: Dr. Andreas Hoffmann
Sports and Activity
- Regular physical activity has positive effects on most of the organs in the body
- Physical activity makes you feel better
- You may have restrictions based on your condition but they should not stop you from being as active as you can be
Sports and the Heart
- The key to being active is regular, moderate activity (not maximum performance)
- Regular: Three times a week for 30 minutes
- Moderate: You should feel warm but not uncomfortable.
Can I die if I do sports?
- Only a very small number of deaths from heart problems in young people is caused by exercise.
- Even less are caused by playing sports.
How much can I do?
- How much you should do will depend on your heart condition and how your own heart can perform when you exercise.
- Most patients can do more than they think.
- But some have to accept restrictions.
Some things they told you when you were a child may be different now; like:
- You may have been told that exercise is dangerous
- The doctor may have told you not to do any sports
- Your family or school may have not allowed you to do sports or physical activity.
Problems to be prevented
- Problems with your heart rhythm if you have a weak heart
- Lack of fluid replacement when you are sweating
- A big rise or fall in your blood pressure
- Bruising; if you are on a blood thinner
- Bone injuries
How the doctors decide restrictions
- Is based on the type of sport or activity
- The difficulty of the activity
- How high it will make your heart rate go
- How your heart might respond to activity and sports
Best guide for getting active
- You are the best judge of what you can do
- If you can’t talk and breath....slow down a little
- Your doctor can order an exercise test before becoming active and give you a “target heart rate”
- The doctor can guide your activity instructor based on your history
Examples of Activities
High energy activity
- Snow Skiing
Low energy activity
- horseback riding
- Slow walking 200 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Hiking 300 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Fast walking 350 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Swimming 500 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Walking up hill 500 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Tennis 600 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
- Jogging 700 kcal/h (in a 70 kg adult)
Are you restricted?
- Mild Pulmonary Stenosis
- Small Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
- Small Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
- Repaired VSD or ASD
- Repaired Tetralogy of Fallot (usually)
- Mitral Valve Prolapse without arrhythmia
- Prosthetic Valve with normal pump function
what about competitive activity ?
- Patients with a heart condition usually
- should not engage in competition.
- There may however be some exceptions in very mild and uncomplicated cases.
- This will have to be discussed with your heart specialist doctor.
Usually restricted to mild intensity sports (or no sports at all)
- Importantly narrowed valves
- Weak pumping chambers (ventricle)
- Severe pulmonary hypertension
- Most cyanotic patients (blue)
- Some “Mustard” or “Fontan” patients
Avoid Body Impact
- Marfan syndrome
- Others with ascending aortic aneurysms
- Patients on coumadin (warfarin)
- Cardiac death in sports is rare
- Sports related cardiac deaths in congenital patients who are followed in a specialized clinic are very rare
- Your doctor can set your level of restriction and guide your activity level
- Activity is good for your mind and body