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Living With Congenital Heart Defects by Ben's Friends

ASD/Septal Defects - Aortic and Vessel Defects - Single Ventricle Defects - Tetrology of Fallot - Transposition of the Great Arteries - Valve Defects

Living With Congenital Heart Defects

ASD- Strength training before open heart surgery

I am 38 year old and recently diagnosed with Sinus Venosus ASD. I need to under go open hear surgery and waiting for surgery appointment. I don’t have any symptoms and diagnosis was by chance. I am a very active person and do running, biking and strength training. My question is can I continue my exercise routine especially strength training. I do lift up 135 pounds. One of cardiologist said no restriction and another said just to do aerobic workouts. I am already so overwhelmed with this news and feel I am restricted too much. Is it okay to continue to do exercise as I don’t have any symptoms.

Hi Chiatra.
I also had varying advice on exercise - one said don’t let heart rate exceed 140 (I am 50 yrs old), the other said keep exercising to be healthy for the op/ recovery.

I kept to <140, & still did jogging, light weights, power yoga. NB I also had few serious symptoms - UNTIL one day, when I passed out, just getting dressed!

So for caution I’d say - don’t assume you won’t start to get symptoms, especially with the cortisol stress effect of knowing you need OHS! Observe your body more carefully, stay well hydrated esp. if your blood pressure is low from being fit, maybe don’t exercise alone?

I’m no expert re lifting weights, but I’d guess it does give the heart a big, fast strain? A heart with SV ASD probably has an enlarged right chamber and may struggle to cope with such a rapid strain? You don’t want to burst anything before they fix you :wink:.

Also, a silly point perhaps - but you’ll probably lose your fitness (temporarily) anyway, when you have to rest after the op (at least a 6 wk lay-off, it was 12wks for me, till my heart stopped over-reacting). So is there much point in risking strain to keep fit now :wink:? You’ll have to regain your fitness later anyway, so maybe just low-strain exercise to be healthy for op? (I admit having to regain fitness is frustrating & horrid)

Wishing you all the best, I hope & trust you will be fine :slightly_smiling_face:

I like to work out too after my PFO closure and I only lift 15 to 20 pounds just to keep my arms tone, when I asked my Doctor he said try at your own risk! I got scared and I now do 10 pounds and I don’t over do it. So Iam not sure I think ever Doctor has there own opinion just do what you feel.

Thank you Midlifer for sharing your experience. I know I will have lot of restriction after surgery and I may need several year to reach where I am in my fitness level. It took me more than three to gain this strength and may have to start over again. Being active all these years its kind of hard to take it slow. I have already reduced lot of things doing more walking and light jogging. Hoping to cross this challenge of my life soon.

Hello there, Pugs!
It’s great that you joined us, but too bad that you “qualify” for the group. I hope being able to share with others will make life a little easier for you.
Seenie from ModSupport

Hello Chaitra,

I was diagnosed with an ASD in 2017 which caused a small but at the time very scary stroke. I was 52 and had had no symptoms at all prior to the incident. Like you I’ve been active all my life, in my case, competing up to my late teens on the track and since my 20’s racing as an amateur road cyclist. I was training and riding regularly almost right up to the day of my stroke. So like you, I was pretty overwhelmed when I got the diagnosis. Fortunately I had almost fully recovered at least from the stroke within a couple of days.

After a week in hospital and following diagnosis I wanted to know whether I could get back to my usual exercise routines. I asked three different specialists on separate occasions whether I would be okay, pointing out that my routines often involved intense anaerobic exercise at maximum heart rate as well as steady aerobic activity. All of them were confident I would be absolutely fine.

I should say at this point, this was my experience, you should always follow the advice of your own doctors first!

So within a week of leaving hospital I was awaiting an ASD repair and very pleased to be still in the world and back on my bike.

A little while later I had the repair which turned out to be fairly complex. Afterwards I asked similar questions and was pleased to get back similar replies with the caveat I should lay off any intense stuff for a few weeks while the repair settled down as it was explained that intense heart activity could irritate the repair site or disturb the device used to patch the hole. I followed this advice carefully (as I’m sure many on this site will testify, I can’t overstate how aware of your heart and your well-being you become after an experience like this!)

That was nearly two years ago. I’m still riding hard and competing occasionally. One thing I have noticed, since the repair my resting heart rate has fallen as has my heart rate at my aerobic threshold (maximum sustainable heart rate during exercise). I don’t understand this complex area that well, but this suggests to me that prior to the repair I was losing a percentage of oxygenated blood through the ASD back to the right side of my heart with every beat. This meant my working muscles, particularly during intense exercise, were not receiving as much blood (oxygen) as they do now since the repair. I believe I am actually measurably stronger as an athlete now than I was before the repair.

I’m only talking here about my own experience and your’s differs from mine in at least one important respect. My repair was carried out through a catheter, while you are receiving OHS. I understand recovery takes much longer with this method due to the surgery required to reach your heart. Obviously any advice relating to that is not for me to comment on.

So Chaitra, there’s plenty of reasons to be positive about your diagnosis. My only wish is that I was as young as you are when I had got my diagnosis. If I had been I think my competition results over the last twenty years might have been very different!

Hey Bicycleman,

Thank you for sharing your experience. Even though initially I felt depressed, later I convinced myself that at least I was diagnosed before anything worse can happen. Doctor has already briefed me that, I will have restriction 2-3 months after surgery and I should be able to get back to my routine after that. Hoping for the best.

That’s how I felt chaitra. Laid up in hospital wired up to a machine. Couldn’t believe it had happened. It took a while to realise how lucky I had been: Not only had I dodged the ‘stroke bullet’, but as a consequence they had found a hole in my heart that could be fixed before it did any more damage.

I guess open heart surgery is pretty traumatic on the body (the heart handles it relatively fine!) so you need those months to heal up. It sounds like you’re in good shape, so recovery should be a lot quicker than for many. Another reason to be positive.

Talk to your doctor. In my case any right side heart pressure was a no no till surgery, but I was having TIAs and breathing issues as a result of mine.

I was told the first 2 year cardio only to prevent it from dis lodging . It can take up to 2 years for flesh to grow over it in order to secure device in place.