Physical Fitness and Metabolic Syndrome in Children with Repaired Congenital Heart Disease Compared with Healthy Children

Mahmoud Zaqout, Kristof Vandekerckhove, Nathalie Michels, Thierry Bove, Katrien François, Daniel De Wolf
Journal of Pediatrics 2017, 191: 125-132

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether children who underwent surgery for congenital heart disease (CHD) are as fit as their peers.

STUDY DESIGN: We studied 66 children (6-14 years) who underwent surgery for ventricular septal defect (n = 19), coarctation of aorta (n = 10), tetralogy of Fallot (n = 15), and transposition of great arteries (n = 22); and 520 healthy children (6-12 years). All children performed physical fitness tests: cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, balance, flexibility, and speed. Metabolic score was assessed through z-score standardization using 4 components: waist circumference, blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin resistance. Assessment also included self-reported and accelerometer-measured physical activity. Linear regression analyses with group (CHD vs control) as a predictor were adjusted for age, body mass index, physical activity, and parental education.

RESULTS: Measured physical activity level, body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, and total metabolic score did not differ between children with CHD and controls, whereas reported physical activity was greater in the CHD group than control group. Boys with CHD were less strong in upper muscular strength, speed, and balance, whereas girls with CHD were better in lower muscular strength and worse in balance. High-density lipoprotein was greater in boys and girls with CHD, whereas boys with CHD showed unhealthier glucose homeostasis.

CONCLUSION: Appropriate physical fitness was achieved in children after surgery for CHD, especially in girls. Consequently, children with CHD were not at increased total metabolic risk. Lifestyle counseling should be part of every patient interaction.

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