Aronoff EB; Opotowsky AR; Mays WA; Knecht SK; Goessling J; Rice M; Shertzer J; Wittekind SG; Powell AW
Pediatric cardiology [Pediatr Cardiol] 2023 Jun 09.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Jun 09.
Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an important tool for improving fitness and quality of life in those with heart disease (HD). Few pediatric centers use CR to care for these patients, and virtual CR is rarely used. In addition, it is unclear how the COVID-19 era has changed CR outcomes. This study assessed fitness improvements in young HD patients participating in both facility-based and virtual CR during the COVID-19 pandemic. This retrospective single-center cohort study included new patients who completed CR from March 2020 through July 2022. CR outcomes included physical, performance, and psychosocial measures. Comparison between serial testing was performed with a paired t test with P < 0.05 was considered significant. Data are reported as mean ± standard deviation. There were 47 patients (19 ± 7.3 years old; 49% male) who completed CR. Improvements were seen in peak oxygen consumption (VO 2 , 62.3 ± 16.1 v 71 ± 18.2% of predicted, p = 0.0007), 6-min walk (6 MW) distance (401 ± 163.8 v 480.7 ± 119.2 m, p = < 0.0001), sit to stand (16.2 ± 4.9 v 22.1 ± 6.6 repetitions; p = < 0.0001), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) (5.9 ± 4.3 v 4.4 ± 4.2; p = 0.002), and Physical Component Score (39.9 ± 10.1 v 44.9 ± 8.8; p = 0.002). Facility-based CR enrollees were less likely to complete CR than virtual patients (60%, 33/55 v 80%, 12/15; p = 0.005). Increases in peak VO 2 (60 ± 15.3 v 70.2 ± 17.8% of predicted; p = 0.002) were seen among those that completed facility-based CR; this was not observed in the virtual group. Both groups demonstrated improvement in 6 MW distance, sit-to-stand repetitions, and sit-and-reach distance. Completion of a CR program resulted in fitness improvements during the COVID-19 era regardless of location, although peak VO 2 improved more for the in-person group.