Team leads Cochrane Review on physical activity for people with congenital heart disease

The Cochrane Review was conducted to better understand the use of physical activity in hospital or home-based exercise rehabilitation programmes.

A team led by the University of Exeter has carried out a detailed review of evidence on physical activity interventions for people with congenital heart disease.

The Cochrane Review – a method recognised worldwide for its rigour and methodological approach – was conducted to better understand the use of physical activity in hospital or home-based exercise rehabilitation programmes.

A key member of the team was PhD student Curtis Wadey, who said: “Currently, exercise prescription and cardiac rehabilitation are not routinely discussed or offered to patients with congenital heart disease in the UK.

“This Cochrane Review provides evidence that should encourage future research and funding into this important and growing area.”

The team reported small improvements in the cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness of patients, as well as small increases in physical activity, but health-related quality of life data could not be evaluated sufficiently.

Importantly, and to provide confidence to patients, there were no serious adverse events related to the interventions, or reported fatalities when exercising.

The team, including researchers from the universities of Bristol and Glasgow, also piloted the use of Cochrane’s Risk of Bias 2 (RoB2) tool, which allows reviewers to assess the risk of bias in any of the randomised controlled trials they identify.

The new and improved RoB2 assesses five domains: the randomisation process; deviations from the intended intervention; missing outcome data; measurement of the outcome; selection of the reported data.

The risks of bias were judged by the review team to be similar across these outcomes and in most cases the results were rated overall as having “some concerns”.

Professor Craig Williams, who led the review team, said: “Although the work was intense, and we were kept to a very strict deadline, by being the first Cochrane Review to be published using the RoB2 we have helped Cochrane pilot the new methodology and our paper will act as exemplar for other reviews to come.”

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