“Did You Exercise Before Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Leticia
By Adam Pick on August 10, 2009
I just received a great question from Leticia about exercise prior to heart valve surgery.
Leticia writes, “Hi Adam, I have been diagnosed with a bi-cuspid aortic heart valve. I have no symptoms or shortness of breath. My cardiologist hopes I can go for another 10 years without surgery. I’m concerned about my hobbies, which are aerobics and I teach ballet. I love my exercise and my doctor states that I don’t have to change my lifestyle unless I’m feeling symptoms. I’ve just read stories about athletic people having to reduce activity until after surgery. I don’t want to pass out one day and seriously injure or kill myself. Do you have any other info on exercise and bi-cuspid aortic heart valve? Thank you, Leticia”
As Leticia alludes, valvular disorders can negatively impact heart function during exercise for patients prior to heart valve surgery.
In fact, I just posted a patient story about Randy, from Wisconsin, who fainted while bike riding due to a bicuspid aortic valve. (Thankfully, everything worked out okay for Randy.)
Randy – Fainted During Bike Riding
At the same time, other patients – under medical supervision – engage in exercise to enhance their physical condition prior to heart valve surgery. For example, Sylvia Woolworth lost 35 pounds leading up to her heart valve replacement.
Sylvia – Lost 35 Pounds
As for me, my cardiologist restricted all exercise when it was determined that I needed an aortic valve replacement. However, I was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, severe regurgitation and a dilated heart. Like Leticia, I was born with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve.
Specific to Leticia’s situation, I do not know the specific details of her valve disease progression (e.g. mild, moderate, or severe). That said, I would suggest that Leticia contact her cardiologist to better understand the severity of the disorder and its impact upon her exercise routine, if any.
One last note… I would also suggest to Leticia that symptom manifestation may not be the best, definitive indicator for timing heart valve surgery. So you know, I was asymptomatic but my heart was already enlarged. That said, I think all patients should be actively monitored on a yearly basis following initial diagnosis.
I hope that helps explain a little more about exercise before heart valve replacement surgery!
Keep on tickin!