Exercise Pathophysiology and Testing in Individuals With a Fontan Circulation.

Mahendran AK; Department of Pediatrics,  University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Katz D; Opotowsky AR; Lubert AM;

CJC pediatric and congenital heart disease [CJC Pediatr Congenit Heart Dis] 2023 Jan 14; Vol. 2 (3), pp. 112-123.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Jan 14 (Print Publication: 2023).

The Fontan circulation, a surgical palliation for single-ventricle congenital heart disease, profoundly impacts the cardiopulmonary response to exercise. Reliant on passive pulmonary blood flow, the Fontan circulation has limited capacity to augment cardiac output as necessary to supply working muscles during exercise. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) objectively assesses cardiorespiratory fitness and provides insight into the etiology of exercise intolerance. Furthermore, CPET variables, such as peak oxygen consumption and submaximal variables, have prognostic value and may be used as meaningful endpoints in research studies. CPET is also useful in clinical research applications to assess the effect of pharmacologic or other interventions. Medical therapies to improve exercise tolerance in individuals with a Fontan circulation, such as pulmonary vasodilators, may modestly improve peak oxygen consumption. Exercise training focused on aerobic fitness and lower extremity strength may have a more consistent and larger impact on these measures of aerobic fitness. CPET is a valuable diagnostic and prognostic tool for those with a Fontan circulation. Newer ancillary assessments, such as noninvasive peripheral venous pressure monitoring and cardiac output measurements, hold promise to provide a more nuanced insight into the underlying pathophysiology.