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INCREASING PHYSICAL CAPACITY

Hi All,

I am entering my 11th year as a heart transplant patient. I had my surgery when I was 54. I had always been a very physical person and still am active in several activities.

I am recently retired (went back to work very soon after heart surgery), and now I am trying to plan and experience as much of life as I can. I have recently tried to start a walking / jogging program but after 6 weeks I struggle to improve my capacity, gains are very slow and its mostly around the start of the exercise. I continue to go to a gym and lift weights as i have throughout my life.

I have read about Derek Fitzgerald and other transplant patients able to do astounding things and wonder if I am approaching this wrong. All I desire is to be able to go for short jogs without getting winded.

Is anyone having success with a specific routine?

Dennis

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Replies

  • Hi Dennis,

    Maybe try getting a script for cardiac rehab from your center? They may be able to identify your boundaries and help you plan a schedule. I have seen some of my patients have success with restarting a cardiac rehab program even as far out as you are. 

    In reality rebuilding cardiac function might be a struggle for anyone after 10 years of abstaining from regular cardio exercise, post transplant or not. Assuming your heart is in good condition, theoretically you shouldn't have any more problems than anyone else.

    However, it is also worth considering that transplant meds make you more prone to CAV, and being so far out I wonder if you should investigate any organic causes of your struggle. In such a case weights may not impose a problem where cardiovascular exercise may. Do you have recent Echo and Cath results?

    Wishing you the best! 

    Tara 

  • Dennis when your heart is removed the nerves that tell your heart to speed up because your body is now exercising and needs more oxegonated blood flow to your lungs and muscles isn't there anymore!! It takes awhile for your new heart to essentially realize that your exercising. I exercise everyday and I had it timed for me..... I alwAys do 30 min cardio before strength training and it takes my heart 10 min of whatever cardio I'm doing to catch up and be in sync with my bodies activity. If I start off fast I can do it but it's like I'm struggling but after 10 min it's like I feel it kick in and suddenly I have a second wind and off I go. If you took off sprinting you'd prob pass out or get really dizzy! Hope his helps. It took me three years just to recover enough to exercise at all cause I endured a clotted LVAD and then was the 6th total artificial heart transplant ever done In the PNW at UW hospital. Had that 11 mo and it was killing me and making my kidneys fail badly so I lived in hospital for a long time. Had my transplant in 3/25/13 at the age of 38!
    • Hi Danny,

      I am experiencing the same as you described. It is starting to get better and the results are improving ever so slowly.

      Thanks

      Dennis

  • Six weeks is nothing. Never give up. Congrats on your retirement. Stay well.
    • Hi Peggy,

      Sorry for taking so long to respond. Its getting better slowly and my energy does wildly vary. I was a college wrestler and had great endurance for most of my life. Exercising came easy so the fact that I have to warm up and start so slowly can be frustrating. Thabnk you for your advice.

      Best,

      Dennis 

  • Hi Dennis. I'm almost three years out from my heart transplant. I'm 68 years old. My first few months were a constant struggle to get stronger. But I never stopped. After Cardio rehab ended, I walk for an hour a few days a week, joined an aerobic group, a dance fitness class, and started swimming. Swimming got me to the Transplant Games of America in June. Remember, without nerves on our hearts, warming up always takes longer, so you have to accept that. I usually reach my stride after about twenty minutes. I don't jog as I'm getting a knee replacement soon. I think you just need to stick with a routine you love and it will work out. Join me at the Transplant Games in 2018. It is an awesome experience.
    Peggy
  • I exercise daily and golf/ride my motorcycle. I have gained strength but the real progress did not happen until I cleared the Hep-C. But yes it is hard to gain strength and takes a lot of commitment.  When I golf I try and walk as much as possible. 

  • I am 7 years out from a heart transplant. I run about 60 miles a week and have run marathon
    I'm 63. The quality of my running varies quite a bit. Anything like a cold, allergies, etc sends it downhill quickly. One thing I've discovered that works is high intensity training. A doctor at the University of Oslo has done studies specifically related to heart transplants and high intensity training. The training is basically 4 sessions week. Each session is 4 minutes of 80 to 90% effort followed by 1 minute off. The idea is to increase VO2 . Look it up before trying it. I tried it and it worked well
    • Hi John,

      Thank you for the advice and sorry for taking so long to get back. The experience you described is exactly how i feel and I would love to learn more about your hi intensity training routine. Can you steer me to a web site or source to learn more?

      Thanks for responding,

      Dennis

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