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Exercise training has been shown to increase exercise capacity in survivors of Fontan surgery. The geographic distribution of the Fontan population has been a barrier to hospital-based exercise training programmes. The objective of this study was to establish whether a home exercise training programme could achieve similar improvements to a hospital programme.
Adolescents with a Fontan circulation aged 12–19 years were prospectively recruited in a hospital or home exercise training programme. Patients underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing and completed the Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory at initial assessment and after completion of an 8-week programme. Both groups performed two 1-hour training sessions per week. Patients in the home training programme had their first session in the hospital, and then progressed independently with one phone consult per week and one home visit by a physiotherapist.
In total, 17 patients, with a mean age of 15±3 years, completed the training programme (six hospital). Characteristics and baseline performance of patients were similar in both groups. Oxygen consumption at anaerobic threshold increased from 19.3±3.8 to 21.6±6.0 ml/kg/minute (p=0.02) and peak oxygen pulse increased from 8.8±2.5 to 9.5±2.7 ml/beat (p=0.049). Total quality of life scale improved from 68 to 74% (p=0.01) and psychosocial health improved from 67 to 74% (p=0.02). No patient experienced training-related complications.
Exercise training is beneficial and most likely safe after Fontan, resulting in improved exercise capacity and self-reported quality of life. Home exercise training programmes are probably as effective as hospital programmes. Home exercise training programmes should be integrated in the follow-up care of patients undergoing Fontan surgery.
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