Determinants of Physical Fitness in Children with Repaired Congenital Heart Disease

Mahmoud Zaqout, Kristof Vandekerckhove, Daniel De Wolf, JOSEPH PANZER, Thierry Bove, Katrien François, Stefaan De Henauw, Nathalie Michels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this study was to determine factors associated with physical fitness (PF) in children who underwent surgery for congenital heart disease (CHD). Sixty-six children (7–14 years) who underwent surgery for ventricular septal defect (n = 19), transposition of great arteries (n = 22), coarctation of aorta (n = 10), and tetralogy of Fallot (n = 15) were included. All children performed PF tests: cardiorespiratory fitness, upper- and lower-limb muscle strength, speed, balance, and flexibility. Cardiac evaluation was done via echocardiography and cardiopulmonary exercise test. Factors related to child’s characteristics, child’s lifestyle, physical activity motivators/barriers, and parental factors were assessed. Linear regression analyses were conducted. The results showed no significant differences in physical activity (PA) level by CHD type. Boys had better cardiorespiratory fitness (difference = 1.86 ml/kg/min [0.51;3.22]) and were more physically active (difference = 19.40 min/day [8.14;30.66]), while girls had better flexibility (difference = − 3.60 cm [− 7.07;− 0.14]). Physical activity motivators showed an association with four out of six PF components: cardiorespiratory fitness, coefficient = 0.063 [0.01;0.11]; upper-limb muscle strength, coefficient = 0.076 [0.01;0.14]; lower-limb muscle strength, coefficient = 0.598 [0.07;1.13]; and speed, coefficient = 0.03 [0.01;0.05]. Age, sex, and motivators together reached a maximum adjusted R2 = 0.707 for upper-limb strength. Adding other possible determinants did not significantly increase the explained variance. Apart from age and sex as non-modifiable determinants, the main target which might improve fitness would be the introduction of an intervention which increases the motivation to be active
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-865
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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