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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2007 December;60(4):575-85

language: English, Italian

Fitness and congenital heart diseases. Experiences of a Sports Medicine Centre

Bellagamba L., Manzi M. T.

Servizio di Medicina dello Sport, AUSL, Rieti, Italy


Improvements of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, allow an easier identification of congenital heart diseases, an increasing life expectancy and a better life quality in people affected by this pathology. A Sports-Doctor in his sport fitness activity, may face two different circumstances: the evaluation of a patient affected by congenital heart pathology, already diagnosed, and sometimes surgically treated and the possibility chance to diagnose a pathology for the first time. In this article we report the practice of the Sports Medicine Centre of “ASL” in Rieti, by evaluating the cases of congenital heart defects.
Within this time, we have checked 41 people with congenital cardiopathies: 8 of them showing a defect already diagnosed and in a few cases, previously treated; 33 people affected by pathologies revealed during fitness tests. The most complex defects (Tetralogy of Fallot, Complete atrioventricular canal defect, coarctation of the aorta) belonged to the first group since they had clinically appeared in perinatal time or in early childhood. Less severe and above all asymptomatic cardiopathies belonged to the second group (Atrial septal defect, bicuspid aortic valve, subvalvular membranous aortic stenosis, pulmonic valve dysplasia, Ebstein’s anomaly, accessory atrioventricular pathways); however, since potentially dangerous, they sometimes required surgical corrections or ablative therapy.
A Sports-Doctor can’t confine himself to merely giving or refusing a fitness certification, considering that heart patients benefit from sport activities both from a physical social and psychological point of view. He has to discover the most suitable sport to everyone and to monitor with Cardiologists and Heart Surgeons, preventing any possible complications.

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