Safety and effectiveness of home-based, self-selected exercise training in symptomatic adults with congenital heart disease: A prospective, randomised, controlled trial

Alexandra C. van Dissel, Ilja M. Blok, Jean Luc Q. Hooglugt, Ferdinand H. de Haan, Harald T. Jørstad, Barbara J.M. Mulder, Berto J. Bouma, Michiel M. Winter

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Background: The purpose of this prospective randomised controlled trial was to assess whether home-based, self-selected exercise training is safe, results in high compliance and improves exercise capacity in symptomatic adults with congenital heart disease (CHD). Methods: Forty adults with moderate or severe CHD (40 ± 12 years, 56% male, New York Heart Association [NYHA] II/III 37/3) were randomly assigned, stratified by CHD complexity, either to home-based exercise training or usual care. The exercise training protocol consisted of three exercise sessions per week for six consecutive months. Patients were free to choose any sports of their preference. Results: Thirty-four patients (each randomisation group n = 17) completed the protocol and were analysed. The majority was involved in high-dynamic sports (76%); none had to discontinue the training programme due to exercise-related adverse events. More than 70% adhered to the exercise programme at or above the target training level. Peak VO2 increased significantly in the exercise group by +1.7 ± 2.7 ml∙kg∙min−1 (p = 0.025), whereas it remained unchanged in the control group by +0.8 ± 2.2 ml∙kg∙min−1 (p = 0.184). No significant changes were found in serum N-Terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide levels or quality of life in either randomisation group or between groups. Conclusions: In symptomatic adults with moderate or severe CHD, home-based exercise training of their preference appeared safe, with good compliance and favourable effects on exercise capacity. Our results demonstrate that it is appropriate to stimulate our patients to regularly perform moderate to vigorous physical activities, in absence of medical restrictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of cardiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Adults
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Exercise
  • Heart failure
  • Safety

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