Why are children so resilient

How resilient are children with congenital heart defects? - For the first time, doctors can realistically assess the physical performance of children in particular

Every year around 6,000 babies are born in Germany with a congenital heart defect. The great medical advances in recent decades have helped most of them very well: Today - through operations, interventions and drug therapies - almost 90 percent of children reach adulthood. There are currently an estimated 300,000 children, adolescents and adults with a congenital heart defect in Germany. It is not uncommon for small and large patients with a congenital heart defect to have problems with their resilience at school, at work, in family life and in their free time. So many questions arise, for example about suitable sports behavior or career choice. "Up to now, the child cardiologists and cardiologists in charge have usually not had an exact answer to these questions," says Dr. Karl-Otto Dubowy from the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects. “Because in order to realistically assess and classify the resilience, comparative values ​​from healthy children, adolescents, adults and seniors as well as from patients with congenital heart defects of all age groups are necessary. We haven't had these reference values ​​so far. "

From small to large - reference values ​​that grow with you

It is different now. With the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Dr. Dubowy conducted a study on objective resilience. "For this purpose, we collected standard values ​​for physical endurance from more than 2,000 healthy test subjects over a period of five years in Bad Oeynhausen," said Dr. Dubowy. The resilience of healthy subjects was examined on a bicycle and treadmill, and the walking distance achieved in six minutes on a flat surface was measured. At the same time, patients with congenital heart defects were systematically followed up in more than 20 heart centers and clinics.

"It is important that we collected reference values ​​that grew with the patient because we examined patients from all age groups - from elementary school to senior citizens." Because physical resilience changes significantly in the course of life and increases particularly at a young age due to growth strong too. "This is why it has so far hardly been possible to find out, especially with children and adolescents, what influence, for example, an operation, an intervention or drug therapy has on performance," says Dr. Dubowy. With the help of the now available comprehensive inventory of objective physical performance depending on age, gender and the type of congenital heart defect, it is now possible to differentiate the actual effect of a therapy from physiological growth and to draw conclusions about the therapeutic measures.

May 5th is the "Day of the Child with Heart Disease"

To determine the individual resilience of patients with congenital heart defects, the treating physicians will in future be able to use a web tool called “Online Evaluation of Objective Resilience” on the Internet at www.kompetenznetz-ahf.de. "The values ​​of a patient can be related to normal values ​​and the individual resilience can be determined", explains Dr. Dubowy.

Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects since the end of 2002. Doctors and scientists from clinics, research institutions and rehabilitation clinics who care for patients with congenital heart defects work together in the competence network. All established pediatric cardiologists, some cardiologists as well as parent associations and self-help groups are also involved. In the competence network, for example, the long-term effects after operations are researched, new diagnostic and treatment methods are developed, and studies on the therapy and prevention of dysfunctions of the right ventricle are organized. The publisher Friede Springer, Axel Springer's widow, is the patron of the competence network.
Contact Person:
Dr. Karl-Otto Dubowy
University Clinic of the Ruhr University Bochum
Heart and Diabetes Center NRW
Clinic for Congenital Heart Defects
Georgenstrasse 11
32549 Bad Oeynhausen
Tel .: 05731 97-3605
Fax: 05731 97-2131
Email: [email protected]