Exercise guidelines for genetic heart conditions released

The American Heart Association (AHA) has produced a series of recommendations for recreational physical activity in children, teens, and young adults with genetic cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

The report, published in the current issue of the journal Circulation, focuses on CVDs that are known to increase the risk of sudden death associated with exercise, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and long-QT syndrome.

Although such diseases are considered relatively uncommon individually, collectively they cause a substantial proportion of unexpected cardiovascular-related deaths, usually resulting from heart rhythm problems, among adolescents and young adults.

The guidelines, prepared by the AHA committee on Exercise, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention, recommend that people with these diseases can, and should, exercise.

Committee Chair Dr Barry Maron said: “The impetus of the document is to emphasise that the mere presence of a genetic CVD should not be regarded as a reason to be sedentary.

“Instead, this document tries to discern which exercises are preferable and which should be avoided, as well as help clinicians make decisions about how they advise their patients when it comes to recreational exercise.”

The report, which covers recreational but not competitive sports, suggests that activities requiring “bursts” of exertion, such as sprinting, soccer, and tennis should be avoided.

“Preference is given to recreational sporting activities such as informal jogging without a training regimen, biking on level terrain, or lap swimming, in which energy expenditure is largely stable and consistent, even over relatively long distances or periods of time,” it states.

Other activities that should be avoided include those that require “systematic and progressive levels of exertion” such as weight-lifting, downhill skiing, diving, and rock-climbing.”

Overall, the Panel recommends that patients should follow their doctors’ recommendations about which exercises they can engage in, and which to avoid.

Dr Maron commented: “There is no simple formula that tells you what to avoid and not to avoid; but the guidelines offer some prudent recommendations governing recreational exercise for patients with known CVD.”

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.