Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation
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COPING & HEALING

CARING FOR A CHILD:
POST-ADOLESCENT ISSUES

As your child reaches adulthood, there will be different issues and considerations to contend with. These may include restrictions on choice of occupation, recreational activities, and alcohol, drug and caffeine intake. New issues that you and your post adolescent child may want to discus together with his/her cardiologist include:

  • Any specific physical or behavioral restrictions? This may include limitations on sports, any stimulation of the nervous system, medications or stimulants (alcohol, drugs, caffeine) that increase the heart rate, severe loss of blood or body fluid (excessive hemorrhage, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration), prolonged standing in hot baths/showers, and extreme hot/cold conditions.
  • Precautions that should be taken before undergoing any medical/surgical procedure?
  • Situations that would put the heart at risk for bacterial endocarditis? This may include tattoos, body piercing, or certain medical and dental procedures.
  • Any restrictions on choice of occupation or recreational activities?
  • Any new dietary guidelines such as low fat or low salt diets?

Beginning with the teenage years, your child should exercise common sense in regards to his/her health. Common guidelines are 1) refrain from smoking or taking stimulants, 2) eat healthy well balanced meals with adequate calories/protein, 3) avoid physically overexerting himself/herself, 4) get plenty of sleep, 5) get regular medical evaluations and dental care, and 6) take prescribed heart medication. Whether your child should participate in physical education (gym) classes or intramural sports will depend on your child's condition and school's flexibility. It may be possible for the school nurse to work with the physical education department to develop an individualized program that includes gym exercises but excludes intramural sports that are intense or competitive in nature (i.e. track, basketball). These restrictions may be especially difficult for a child to accept and understand if competitive sports have played a large role in your family's social life. You may need to help your child develop new interests or you may need to find other recreational activities in which all members of the family can participate. Children who were involved in sports before their diagnosis should be encouraged to maintain existing relationships with former team members and be involved in the sport in a non competitive manner (i.e. managing the team or assisting the coach).

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