This project is designed to improve quality of life and exercise capacity for people living with congenital heart disease (CHD).
More than 150,000 Australians live with a congenital heart defect; at least half of these people are adults. Morbidity and premature mortality rates are high as are the burdens on the health system. Young people living with a univentricular Fontan circulation face the highest mortality rates of all. Although the benefits of physical activity are well recognised in other chronic conditions and cardiac rehabilitation is a standard of care in acquired cardiac disease, exercise training for the CHD population has been under-studied and even historically discouraged.
The Heart Research Institute will undertake the first multi-centre randomised controlled exercise intervention in children and adults living with CHD employing a scalable model of care, integrating physical activity and behaviour change techniques. We propose two separate studies due to the vastly different physiology and physiological impact of exercise training in one-ventricle compared with two-ventricle CHD.
Within five years we will have generated the first definitive evidence to guide exercise prescription for the international CHD population to date. These findings will inform practice and optimal models of care worldwide.