Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Congenital Heart Disease

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1111/chd.12330; PubMed Central: PMC26879633



Patients after Fontan operation for complex congenital heart disease (CHD) have decreased exercise capacity and report reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Studies suggest hospital-based cardiac physical activity programs can improve HRQOL and exercise capacity in patients with CHD; however, these programs have variable adherence rates. The impact of a home-based cardiac physical activity program in Fontan survivors is unclear. This pilot study evaluated the safety, feasibility, and benefits of an innovative home-based physical activity program on HRQOL in Fontan patients.


A total of 14 children, 8–12 years, with Fontan circulation enrolled in a 12-week moderate/high intensity home-based cardiac physical activity program, which included a home exercise routine and 3 formalized in-person exercise sessions at 0, 6, and 12 weeks. Subjects and parents completed validated questionnaires to assess HRQOL. The Shuttle Test Run was used to measure exercise capacity. A Fitbit Flex Activity Monitor was used to assess adherence to the home activity program.


Of the 14 patients, 57% were male and 36% had a dominant left ventricle. Overall, 93% completed the program. There were no adverse events. Parents reported significant improvement in their child's overall HRQOL (P < .01), physical function (P < .01), school function (P = .01), and psychosocial function (P  < .01). Patients reported no improvement in HRQOL. Exercise capacity, measured by total shuttles and exercise time in the Shuttle Test Run and calculated VO2max, improved progressively from baseline to the 6 and 12 week follow up sessions. Monthly Fitbit data suggested adherence to the program.


This 12-week home-based cardiac physical activity program is safe and feasible in preteen Fontan patients. Parent proxy-reported HRQOL and objective measures of exercise capacity significantly improved. A 6-month follow up session is scheduled to assess sustainability. A larger study is needed to determine the applicability and reproducibility of these findings in other age groups and forms of complex CHD.


Accepted version. Congenital Heart Disease, Vol. 11, No. 2 (March/April 2016): 175-182. DOI. © 2016 Wiley. Used with permission

Included in

Cardiology Commons