Teen

Lifestyle and Exercise Advice

  • Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist

    The specialist physiotherapist works with the cardiac specialist nurses and cardiologists to provide help and advice on all physical activities for children and young people with congenital heart conditions. The physiotherapist may be able to advise you: – If you have difficulty with Physical activities at school or if you would like some advice on PE – Discussing if you need to limit/avoid particular activities – Help you achieve the level of fitness most appropriate for your condition – Help you get back to activity/exercise after heart surgery

    It is important to remember when exercising:
    -Warm up: Spend 15 minutes gradually warming up and increase your breathing and heart rate steadily.
    -Main exercise: This should be done at a hard enough rate to make you feel ‘puffed’, warm and sweaty. You should be able to do the the talk test: Be able to talk in full sentences all the time you are exercising. If you cannot talk then you are working too hard and need to slow down. If you have enough breath to sing then you are not working hard enough and the exercises will not help you get fitter.
    -Cool down: Very important, make sure you have enough time to cool down, it helps your circulation.

    Other things to remember when exercising – Listen to your body and stay within your capabilities – Make sure you know what is and isn’t advised for your heart condition. If you are unsure, please use the contact below – Don’t become dehydrated – especially if you have a cyanotic heart problem – ALWAYS stop if you feel unwell/pain/dizzy. – You should aim to exercise at least 5x per week.
    Benefits of exercise: – Develops muscles and bones – Improves flexibility – Helps improve sleep and relaxation – Maintains healthy weight – Contributes to brain development and learning – Encourages movement & Co-ordination – Builds social skills – Releases endorphins to ‘feel good’ – Boosts self-Confidence and image.
    Suggestions of exercise – Join in with PE – 10,000 steps per day
    Avoid: Lifting heavy weights, exercising straight after a meal, exercising if you are unwell.

    Frequently asked questions ‘How will I know if I am doing too much?’
    Be aware of your own limitations, when you need to rest, please rest. If you experience any of the below symptoms stop the activity immediately, if it persists seek medical assistance.

    -Dizziness or feeling faint
    -Difficulty speaking due to breathlessness
    -Complaining of palpitations or feeling of heart pounding/fluttering or beating irregularly
    -Becoming pale and clammy
    -Severe tiredness or fatigue.

    If you would like further information about your heart condition and the effects of exercise please contact: Sarah Hibbert (Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist ) on 0113 3926361 or email Sarah.Hibbert3@nhs.net

  • Education and Career Advice

    We can provide information and advice for your school about your heart condition.
    It is important that you know where to get the right career advice as you may need to be realistic about your career options. Those with rigorous fitness tests such as the armed forces or police may not be an option. However that is not to say that there is not the right job out there for you. Connexions direct are a really useful source of information offering advice on education choices and careers. They can be contacted on 0808 001 3219 or http://www.leedspathways.org.uk/connexions/.

    You may feel that your heart condition may make it difficult for you to find a job. The website https://www.gov.uk/careers-helpline-for-teenagers is a useful resource with information about disability employment advisers who can help you to find a job to suit you or help in practical ways to enable you to work.

    Other useful websites
    https://www.thesite.org/work-and-study
    https://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk is for young people with mobility needs and has advice about choosing a career and work placements.

  • Travel Information

    The majority of people with congenital heart disease can and do fly/travel long distances around the world. If you are unsure ask at your outpatient appointment or contact us. The most important point to remember is to ensure that you declare your heart condition when booking travel insurance. Any omissions or mistakes made in relation to your medical condition can be used as grounds to refuse your claim if made.

    If necessary a medical letter can be provided, but the majority of companies do not require this. We can provide you with a list of insurance companies and The Somerville Foundation is also a useful source of information Tel: 0800 854 759.

  • Insurance

    It can be difficult for some people who have congenital heart disease to get insurance. This is often because companies do not have the medical knowledge relating to specific congenital heart conditions or there is a lack of long-term survival data available. This can cause problems when tying to buy a house or get life insurance.

    The best advice is to shop around as there can be marked differences between companies. It is important that you inform the insurance company of your medical condition to ensure that you are fully covered. There are some more sympathetic insurers who can be identified and contacted through the Somerville Foundation Tel: 0800 854 759.

  • Contraception and Pregnancy

    Contraception and pregnancy may have implications for people with congenital heart disease. It is especially important for girls with congenital heart disease to avoid unplanned pregnancies. It is also important that you know what types of contraception are okay for you to use as not all of them are suitable for people with congenital heart disease.

    Even though this is something you might not have thought of yet, contraception and possible future pregnancies will be discussed with you during one of your first visits to the Adult Congenital Heart clinic. This is to give you as much information as possible so that you can make choices about your future when you are ready. If you would like some more information about contraception before you meet the Adult Congenital Heart Team you can either contact the Cardiac Nurse Specialists or your GP.