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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1997 May;29(6):1345-50.

Atrial septal defect in adults: cardiopulmonary exercise capacity before and 4 months and 10 years after defect closure.

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Medizinische Klinik, Abteilung III, Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tübingen, Germany.



The purpose of the study was to evaluate the cardiopulmonary exercise capacity and ventilatory function in adults with atrial septal defect (ASD) preoperatively and 4 months and 10 years postoperatively.


Only few data are available on cardiopulmonary exercise tolerance after ASD closure, but detailed knowledge might be helpful for indication for defect closure in certain patients.


The study was performed in adult patients (mean [+/-SD] age at operation 39.9 +/- 11.5 years; left-right shunt 9.6 +/- 5.6 liters/min; pulmonary/systemic flow ratio 2.8 +/- 1.2; mean pulmonary artery pressure 18.2 +/- 6.2 mm Hg). Cardiopulmonary exercise testing was performed with a bicycle ergometer. We determined peak oxygen uptake, anaerobic threshold, performance at anaerobic threshold and maximal performance in relation to these variables in a normal group. Ventilatory function at rest was expressed by vital capacity, maximal voluntary ventilation and forced expiratory volume in 1 s.


Preoperatively, ventilatory function at rest was only moderately reduced to approximately 75% to 85%. Four months postoperatively we found no significant improvement, but 10 years postoperatively ventilatory function at rest was normalized. Preoperative cardiopulmonary exercise capacity was markedly reduced to 50% to 60%; early postoperatively it was only slightly higher, but late postoperatively exercise capacity significantly improved and was completely normalized.


Although preoperative cardiopulmonary capacity in adult patients with nonrestrictive ASD was significantly decreased, some improvement was seen at 4 months postoperatively, with complete restitution to normal at 10 years after shunt closure.

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