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Cardiac Rehab

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
After experiencing a massive Myocardial infarction (MI; ie, heart attack) 3 days ago, I have been dying to know when I might be able to get back on skis. It is hard to know what to expect, and for good reason no one is willing to hazard much of a guess.

So it would be very useful to hear about the experiences of other heart attack survivors getting back to the slopes.

It has been killing me to think that I might miss much of what could be an epic season.
post #2 of 11

Whoa, glad you're still here. I have no idea about your heart, though. (Weren't you in the Big Toe thread? I guess that seems a bit minor, now...)

post #3 of 11

I'm not a doctor but I was certified in advanced cardiac life support years ago.



If you have been "dying to know when I might be able to get back on skis" and "It has been killing me to think I might miss..."






Maybe you ought to take a couple weeks off.




post #4 of 11

Scary stuff.  Glad you are well enough to be excited about skiing!  As others have said, take it easy for a while.  It's a long ski season.


I'll give you a few tidbits based on my dad's experience.


1. Look into EECP.  You likely won't hear about it as a treatment option, but many think you should.  It's kind of crazy.  Here's the device manufacture's website where you can see for yourself:


And, an article from the Chicago Tribune:



EECP treatment is "medicine's best kept secret," said physician Debra Braverman, director of EECP at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, who recommends it as a first-line treatment in a 2012 review published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. "Patients who receive EECP are better, feel better and require less physician intervention," she said.

EECP mimics the vascular effects of aerobic exercise, research shows. EECP, which provides passive exercise, can be used as a bridge to regain an active lifestyle for patients with chronic chest pain, Braverman wrote in the review.

Braverman suspects the treatment has been slow to catch on because "there is a financial disincentive to promote this non-invasive treatment," she said. "It's low cost relative to other treatments for the same disease," she said.

Gold standard trials — randomized and placebo-controlled, held at multiple sites — have found the treatment to be "generally well tolerated and efficacious; Anginal symptoms were improved in approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of patients," according to the American Heart Association.

Full article:


2. Diet matters:


It's been ten years since my dad had stents, an MI, quadruple bypass, another MI, more stents, then still wasn't able to climb stairs six months later.  As a last hope he did six weeks of EECP and that fixed him.  I now believe that EECP should have been done much, much earlier, and he probably never would have needed bypass.   He's turning 80 this year.  He's not a skier, but he is a cyclist.  I went to spinning class with him Sat and he was rocking it.  He regularly goes for 2-3 hour bike rides and has been for the last decade because of EECP, and a great diet.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Whoa, glad you're still here. I have no idea about your heart, though. (Weren't you in the Big Toe thread? I guess that seems a bit minor, now...)
Segbrown, you are so right about that.
But if you have to be in a hospital room, this view isn't bad.

Tball, thanks for the good suggestions.
But I was really looking for the kind of experience Bob and others offer on the hallux rigidus thread, i.e.: this is what the surgery was really like, and this is what to expect with the recovery.
Maybe I should start one.
post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by Blue Streak View Post
I was really looking for the kind of experience Bob and others offer on the hallux rigidus thread, i.e.: this is what the surgery was really like, and this is what to expect with the recovery.


I wanted to give your thread a bump to see if anyone has personal experience with cardiac recovery and skiing.  Thinking of you and hope all is well.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was an idiot.

I took the body of a graceful, powerful athlete and let it get 55 years old (which would have been fine, had I given it half the love and care typically afforded your average 50 year old motorcar), but in fact I added about a pound a year to its carriage, which put a lot of strain on everything.

But that old hulk could still ski, still bike, still run and pass and catch and tackle, albeit not quite so adroitly as before, but with the dna of an athelete.

Unfortunately, there was other dna in the mix that I didn't pay enough attention to, in the form of both paternal and maternal grandfathers dead of heart attacks and a father (alive) who suffered a heart attack and bypass surgery.

So when the indigestion started to bother me at midnight, I thought little of it. After all, my blood pressure was low, my cholesterol was good, and I got pretty regular exercise.

So what if I was a little overweight, I was still the same strong man underneath.

By 1:30 AM I was decidedly in pain, restlessly writhing to allay the pain in my chest. It wasn't a sharp pain; it was a soreness akin to the feeling of a muscle overworked. In fact, I had worked out with my personal trainer a couple of days earlier, and I thought that my chest muscles were just sore from his pushing me a little more than usual.

When I became nauseous, I thought about the clam chowder I had eaten for dinner. That must have been it!

My wife asked if she could do anything for me. I declined.

After reclining for a while, the pain never subsiding, I did what any thinking man would do: I consulted the internet and came across this article from the Wall Street Journal, and I started thinking seriously about calling 911.

But I did not.

I didn't want the embarassment of calling an ambulance out in the middle of the night for a false alarm, and I didn't want to bother my wife to take me to the hospital.

All of that changed, when another episode of vomiting was followed by dizziness and cold sweats, and at 7:00 AM, I called to my wife to dial 911, at least six hours after the first appearance of symptoms.

The process of admittance and triage at the ER was an efficient blur, and within a few minutes I was on a table surrounded by good people who knew what they were doing.

They assembled a team in 30 minutes.

After the procedure, the cardiologist who performed the cardiac catheterization was not very optimistic, telling my wife (I found out later) that they really like to get to the patient within two hours of the event. The chances of recovery diminish greaty as time passes.

My three coronary arteries were 100% blocked, 99% blocked, and 80% blocked.

I had never had any other cardiac events, not so much as an inkling of one. In fact, the first EKG at the hospital showed normal function, even though I had been having a massive heart attack for almost 8 hours!

I really and truly almost died of a heart attack, and I wasn't ready for it.

Will you be?

post #8 of 11

Glad you are recovering.  I bet there are a lot of us slowly putting on weight.  I feel ironically grateful that my knee rehab forced me to reverse that process.


I don't recall any heart attack threads, but @davluri had an incident that was similar in that it was a major, systemic, life-threatening event.  He reported about it here:

post #9 of 11

Your story sounds very familiar to me. 5 days after my daughters 4th birthday I awoke at 5am with a racing pulse so I checked it out was around 110 beats and this is in a resting state. Started feeling a slight pain on my left side right up through the left side of my jaw. Like you not wanting to bother anyone I drove to the emergency room, walk in and they ask what is wrong. I say I think I'm having a heart attack. I was told to take a seat and wait. I guess it wasn't to urgent ha ha.I was looked at and blood work was done, showed I had a very small MI and was admitted and  next day had cardiac catherization. Unilke you nothing was found no blockages but bloodwork had indicated heart muscle damage so technically was heart attack. My doc theorized it was a collapsing of artery wall that lead to it but they weren't positive.


Have been on meds for cholesterol and calcium blockers since then with no other issues. But at 37 y.o. I knew I had to change destructive patterns in life, crappy eating , no real sustained exercise and cut back on work which was probably the prime suspect leading to stress. I was out skiing less than 2 weeks after but could really feel the lack of physical fitness compared to earlier times. Even though mine was only slight there still was heart muscle damage and that leads to less blood able to be pumped thru out the body leading to fatigue.


Better eating ( just getting rid of soda helped ), regular exercise (became a priority now), and scheduling my jobs better ( self employed) improved my life. If I didn't change I wouldn't be here, I'd have been one of those late 40's early 50's massive heart attacks leading to death. It's amazing how that event has focused my priorities. Sounds like  you got a 2nd chance use it for all it's worth.

post #10 of 11

How soon you can go back depends on the status of your arteries after your cath (did they do a diagnostic cath or did they open one or more of the arteries), how much heart muscle damage there was and what the function of the intact muscle is, and how you respond to lower levels of exercise than skiing. In other words, not an internet question.

Davluri's experience was different--not a heart problem but a problem with the aorta and aortic valve--his issue was not recovering from a heart attack but recovering from a very big operation.

BTW where is Davluri--haven't seen is posts in quite a while. 

post #11 of 11

How's it going Blue Streak?   I have another though for you that came to me as I made the long, slow drive home from skiing yesterday:


Once you get back to skiing, pick your days carefully.  Not for snow, but for sky... blue sky.


Be aware there is not a cath lab between Denver and Grand Junction, AFIK.  So, anyone in need of any interventional cardiology in the mountains need to get to Denver.   This is a quick trip on Flight for Life.  There is a helocopter sitting waiting to fly in Frisco.   It's a quick trip, and as @davluri experience shows time can be critical.


But, the helo can't fly in bad weather, so it's a long trip down I-70 in ambulance.  As I made that drive yesterday I was reminded of a friend of our family that didn't survive that trip after having a stroke skiing.   There is a good chance the outcome would have been different had they been able to fly.   

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