Cardiac Rehabilitation for Adults With Congenital Heart Disease: Physical and Psychosocial Considerations

Adrienne H. Kovacs, Tina M. Kaufman, Craig S. Broberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Owing to significant medical advances, it is now estimated that more than 90% of persons born with congenital heart disease (CHD) will reach adulthood. Medically appropriate physical activity represents an opportunity to improve physical functioning as well as quality of life and psychosocial outcomes. By reviewing published CHD research and clinical recommendations, herein we first summarize how adults with CHD are known to be less physically active and have reduced exercise capacity compared with healthy peers. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is important for routine clinical management and before the onset of an exercise program. Physiological anomalies are common in adults with CHD, although very few necessitate activity restrictions, and positive results from exercise training have been demonstrated. In recent decades, the focus has thus shifted from restriction of exercise to promotion of exercise. Adults with CHD also face unique psychosocial challenges associated with living with a chronic cardiac condition, many of which may influence exercise behaviours. However, much less is known about participation of adults with CHD in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs, which differ from exercise training in their comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to management of chronic disease and that might be uniquely poised to meet the physical and psychosocial needs of adults with CHD. Initial CR outcomes have been positive and with no reported adverse events. This review summarizes the unique physical and psychosocial considerations that may guide the provision of CR to adults with CHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S270-S277
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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