CARING FOR A CHILD:
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
- 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
- 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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