Last day of cardio rehab. Weight now 168lb - lost 5 pounds over 8 weeks of rehab. Finished up with a 15 minute run at 4.5mph and a wimpy 0 degree incline on the treadmill. Cardio rehab was a game changer...
Week 11.5! End of Cardio rehab coming and second stress test
Journal posted on September 27, 2020
Thursday will be the start of week 12 since my mitral valve repair. I was initially signed up for 18 sessions at three sessions per week for a total of 6 weeks. Monday will be my 18th session and I asked them to add another 5 sessions so I could complete two more weeks. (after all I exceeded my max out of pocket on my insurance months ago :)) My goal during the last two weeks is to improve my running while being monitored. I can now run the 15 minute treadmill portion without stopping but my speed is low (4.3mph) and I have 0 incline so I still need some improvement. I also started resistance training - after my first time I was barely able to lift my arms!!! I have lost a lot of upper body strength.
Stress test 2 (the final!): 13.0 METS up from 11.3 in the first one. That is pretty good in my opinion but I was hoping for better. Total time on treadmill went from 8min to 9min 54 sec. Max elevation from 15.5% to 16%, Max speed from 3.7mph to 4.2mph, and Max heart rate achieved before tapping out went from 136 to 149. I would have liked another crack at it because I felt if I could have got a better jogging rhythm I could have done better but I will take it.
In rehab I went from an initial resting blood pressure of 128/84 when I started to 108/68 on session number 17 (6 weeks later). I am now firmly in the normal range for the first time in... well years. I am not sure how much is attributable to diet (low sodium/fat), exercise, weight loss, heart surgery, or meds. I lost 4.5 pounds during rehab and have now lost a total of 26 pounds since January. My morning weight is 169.
So a lot of progress but I still have a bit of work to do before I will be able to run my first 5k. I continue to be amazed by the stories from some people on this site who run 1/2 and full marathons etc post repair. You are amazing!!!
I have another appointment with the cardiologist on October 15 and I have a lot of questions about how successful the repair was and what are the odds of having a re-operation sometime in the future. That is probably my biggest worry right now. Also, I would also like to know if/when I can eliminate or reduce the metoprolol.
So far I would say that Mitral Valve repair has been best thing to happen to me in years. I feel so much better and my fitness level is really starting to improve.
Eight weeks post surgery and my fitness level continues to improve. I can now run (more like a slow 4.3mph jog) for 7 min on the treadmill at the cardio rehab facility before I hit the heart rate limit they set for me. So my 15 min treadmill session is 7 min jog, 3 min walk, 5 min jog.. I hope to be able to run (jog really) for the entire 15 min in the next couple of weeks but we shall see how that goes. Another thing I learned is it turns out the staff don't like it when you exceed the heart rate limit and they tell you to take easier and you ignore them.
I had my baseline echocardiogram and the rehab people have told me it looked "good". I would like a bit more information than that so plan to call my cardiologist as my next appointment isn't until early October. I am sure he will be excited to hear from me and have another round of questions!!!
My wife and I did a hike from our house (at 6,000 ft) to a nearby hill (6,300 ft) and back. This was the same hike (3.4mile round trip) we did the day before my surgery to compare the results. I posted the results as a picture. It looks to me that my heart was able to handle the walk with less spiking and lower BPM while climbing. However, my heart rate is recovering much slower after exertion so my average heart rate (BPM) was higher.
All in all - I am mostly pleased with my progress. I have a lot more energy than before the surgery as I go about the day. My exercise tolerance continues to slowly but steadily improve.
I took the same hike the day before my MV repair and 8 weeks after. Heart rate much improved with less jumps. The only exception is my recovery time is slower. The cardio rehab people tell me that is normal and it will improve with time as I heal
Week 6 post op: Cardio Rehab and Stress Test
Journal posted on August 24, 2020
A little over 6 weeks since my Mitral Valve Repair and I figured it was worth another journal entry.
I have been back to work (from my home office) for two weeks now.
Cardio Rehab: I started cardio rehab and it seems to be a good program. The first half is education around lifestyle choices, cooking demonstrations, and Pritikin videos. They have two nutritionists on staff. The second half of each session is an exercise session. The group is limited to 12 people to enable social distancing. In my group I am the only valve surgery recovery patient. According to the nurse who runs the program the majority of participants have coronary artery disease. Each participant is connected to a portable ECG for the exercise portion and constantly monitored. Issue: I am always the last person to leave as my heart rate is dropping very slowly after the exercise session. The staff believes it is due to the healing process... although it still concerns me. I did see several reports on this site of people with valve repair that have issue with fast heart rate and it seem to fade over time so fingers crossed!
Stress Test: I rated at 11.2 METS which is pretty good according to head of the program. She says it will improve further in the next test in a month. She rated me as "low risk" based on the stress test and told me that I would only be approved for the standard rehab program of 36 sessions over 12 weeks.
Drugs: Amiodarone - complete; metoprolol - 2x a day; low dose aspirin; Lisinopril which I have been on for 5 years, and Atorvastatin. I am hoping to stop taking the metoprolol and atorvastatin once the recovery is complete but we shall see.
I am already feeling a lot more fit after the 4 sessions and the exercise I am doing each day at home.
Mitral Valve Repair Week 4 progress and a chipped tooth
Journal posted on August 6, 2020
Today marks the 4th week since my Mitral Valve Repair and I am feeling great! Averaging about 10,000 steps a day largely from three daily walks. I meet with the Cardio Rehab people and also go back to work (in my home office) on Monday (August 10).
I guess things were going a little too smoothly. I had a piece of a filling (and part of my tooth) break off a couple of days ago and my dentist told me it couldn't just be fixed and I would need a crown. My cardiologist wasn't happy about me getting dental work done but decided the risk was low and better than the alternative of waiting. So I took the 4 tablets of amoxicillin, got the procedure done, and now have a temporary crown while a wait the two weeks for the permanent one to be made. grrrrr
It has been just a little over three weeks (July 9) since my Mitral Valve Repair surgery. I had an annuloplasty ring from Medtronic installed in my heart to shape my repaired mitral valve and I am taking low dose aspirin for 90 days until my heart grows around the ring. I had a bit of AFIB in the hospital and have been taking Amiodarone in pill form since I was discharged from the hospital and haven't had any recurrence that I am aware of. I am also taking a beta blocker Metoprolol twice a day since I was discharged. I think that is to control my heart rate. My heart rate was running at about 80bpm when I was discharged and has dropped to about 65-70bpm since then. Prior to surgery my resting heart rate was between 55-60bpm.
I had a follow-up with my surgeon last week and he gave the green light to return to work and to drive, etc. I am returning to work on the 10th which is 10 days in advance of the expected return from the approved Short Term Disability paperwork.
In general, I feel great. I may be biased but in my mind my heart feels stronger and better than before the surgery. The only things that I still feel are healing are the cuts in the side of my chest: 5 for the surgery with the robot, 2 for the chest tubes and one in my groin for the heart lung machine. I suspect that all will be fully healed in the next week or two.
At this point the only thing I regret is not getting the surgery earlier :).