Exercise restrictions trigger psychological difficulty in active and athletic adults with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy


Objective We examined the extent and nature of the psychological difficulty experienced by athletic adults with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), correlates of that difficulty and coping mechanisms.

Methods A survey assessed athletic history and psychological impact of exercise restrictions. LASSO penalised linear regression identified factors associated with psychological difficulty. Semistructured interviews provided deeper insight into the nature and origins of psychological difficulty.

Results 54 individuals (33% female, mean age 55.9) completed the survey. The majority were recreational athletes at the time of restriction (67%). There was a drop in athleticism after diagnosis, including time spent exercising (p=0.04) and identification as an athlete (p=0.0005). Most respondents (54%) found it stressful and/or difficult to adjust to exercise restrictions. Greater psychological morbidity was associated with history of elite or competitive athletics, athletic identity and decrease in time spent exercising. 16 individuals (44% female, mean age 52.4) were interviewed. Long-term effects included weight gain and uncertainty about exercising safely. The role of exercise in interviewees' lives contracted significantly after restriction, from multiple functions (eg, social, stress relief, fitness) to solely health maintenance. Interviewees reported a unique form of social support: having family and friends participate with them in lower intensity exercise. Lack of understanding from family or friends and avoiding exercise completely were detrimental to coping.

Conclusions Athletic adults with HCM experience multifaceted, lasting difficulty adjusting to exercise recommendations. These data can guide clinicians in identifying patients at highest risk for distress and in helping to bolster coping and adaptation.

Key questions

What is already known about this subject?

  • It is well established that elite athletes experience significant psychological distress when restricted from exercise. Additionally, clinical observations show even recreational athletes experience distress when restricted; however, no research has been performed on the nature or extent of this distress.

What does this study add?

  • This study is the first investigation into the nature and extent of the psychological distress experienced by non-elite athletic adults with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when restricted from athletic activity.

How might this impact on clinical practice?

  • These data can guide clinicians in identifying patients at highest risk for distress in response to exercise recommendations and in helping to bolster coping and adaptation. 

Autor / Fonte:Rebecca C Luiten, Kelly Ormond, Lisa Post, Irfan M Asif, Matthew T Wheeler, Colleen Caleshu Open Heart 2016, 3 (2): e000488
Link: http://openheart.bmj.com/content/3/2/e000488.full.pdf+html