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To assess the general health and activity levels of 4- and 5-year-old children after intervention for congenital cardiac disease.
Health behaviour outcomes were assessed in 91 children who had surgery or catheter intervention for congenital cardiac disease. The children were classified into four groups according to severity. The main parameters of classification were the presence of residual symptoms, frequency of visits to general practitioner or the Accident and Emergency Department, and ability to participate in physical activity according to a calculated “activity score”.
Children had very few residual symptoms after “corrective surgery”. Those with complex congenital cardiac disease post-Fontan-type repair still had symptoms on average 18.2 days per month. Surprisingly, the complex group had fewer days “sick” from non-cardiac causes and had fewer visits to general practitioner or Accident and Emergency Departments. Regression analysis indicates that three variables had significant relevance to the general practitioner or Accident and Emergency visits: complex congenital cardiac disease, fewer visits; Townsend score – more deprivation – more visits; and maternal worry – higher maternal worry score – more visits. Regression analysis indicates that lower activity score is significantly related to complex cardiac disease and higher maternal worry score.
The majority of this group of 4- and 5-year-old children had few residual symptoms and had good exercise tolerance. Maternal worry is a significant factor in influencing both activity levels and frequency of unscheduled health service demands – general practitioner or Accident and Emergency visits.