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Heart Disease - Rehabilitation for Patients with Congenital Heart Defects

If a successful corrective action is taken for a congenital heart defect, a patient may lead a normal life after recovery. In some cases, patients will need to be monitored closely throughout their lifetimes for potential complications of treatment or arising cardiac problems.

Patient guidelines for those living with (or treated) for congenital heart disease:

  • Maintain a healthy diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium
  • Maintain an ideal weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Strictly limit or refrain from the use of alcohol
  • Avoid stress
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Undergo physician monitoring at appropriate intervals
  • Always take prescribed medications and report side effects to a physician
  • Report any new symptoms immediately

The prognosis for congenital heart defects has improved dramatically in recent years with advances in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, the risk of death from congenital heart surgery was 30% compared to 5% today. However, individual prognosis depends on the severity of the defect and whether a method is available to treat the condition. Many patients who are treated for defects will need lifelong cardiac monitoring.

Updated: February 2011