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  1. #1
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Default Hiking after having a heart attack.

    This past Tuesday I suffered a moderate heart attack while hiking in Shenandoah Nat'l Park. I fortunately was hiking with my daughter who hiked out to Skyline Drive to call 911. I was lucky in may ways since I usually hike solo . My Right Coronary Artery (RCA) was 100% blocked which left me incapacitated for 20 minutes .
    I eventually managed to get up using my trekking poles to pull myself up. Cold rain had begun to fall as temperatures had dropped into the 40's Again...I was lucky this time.
    My daughter made the 911 call, as I too somehow found a sweet spot where I stopped to rest the final time. The Ambulance arrived and I stayed alive.

    An Angioplasty and stent insertion and 3 days in the hospital later I am recovering at home. Four new cardiovascular drugs to add to my Statin(cholesterol forming inhibititor) which I've taken for 15 years.


    My questions: Noting that I most certainly be taking four of these meds for the rest of my life plus a baby aspiran, their importance to my health absolutely necessary.
    How does one carry these meds so that they stay dry and maintain a certain level of temperature integrity ? Another words, from getting hot and sticky ?

    How has having a cardiac event while hiking the trail changed your rational judgement , your hiking itinerary going forward ?

    Calm the fears of loved ones when you begin planning your next solo hike ?
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I can't answer any of your questions but I'm glad you're ok.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

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    Real sorry to hear that, here's to a speedy recovery an with thoughts of a good hike when ya can.

  4. #4

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    One thing I can say (having a friend and family member who both had stints) they said they felt like a million dollars and couldn't remember when they had more energy, so it seems to happen almost immediately.

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    I have a friend with a nearly identical story, and he beats me to the top of every climb (and I think I'm in shape!), so I'm sure it's possible for you to do just the same. Glad you're ok.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    How does one carry these meds so that they stay dry and maintain a certain level of temperature integrity ? Another words, from getting hot and sticky ?
    Put one of those "Do not eat this packet" desiccant packets in with the pills. Only open the vial when necessary and close it up right away. I put all of my meds in one vial to save space. I use the vial with a current pain med prescription on it so I have the script for the controlled/schedule drug with me in case I ever have a police issue. Note that it's not technically legal in some states to carry any prescription meds outside their dispensed container, but I've never had a problem.

    How has having a cardiac event while hiking the trail changed your rational judgement , your hiking itinerary going forward ?
    Hope to never have one.

    Calm the fears of loved ones when you begin planning your next solo hike ?
    I tell the wife that if I die that I'll try to make it look like an accident so she can collect double. Seriously, she'd rather I'd be off hiking or whatever and happy than being miserable sticking around the house.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    This past Tuesday I suffered a moderate heart attack while hiking in Shenandoah Nat'l Park. I fortunately was hiking with my daughter who hiked out to Skyline Drive to call 911. I was lucky in may ways since I usually hike solo . My Right Coronary Artery (RCA) was 100% blocked which left me incapacitated for 20 minutes .
    I eventually managed to get up using my trekking poles to pull myself up. Cold rain had begun to fall as temperatures had dropped into the 40's Again...I was lucky this time.
    My daughter made the 911 call, as I too somehow found a sweet spot where I stopped to rest the final time. The Ambulance arrived and I stayed alive.

    An Angioplasty and stent insertion and 3 days in the hospital later I am recovering at home. Four new cardiovascular drugs to add to my Statin(cholesterol forming inhibititor) which I've taken for 15 years.


    My questions: Noting that I most certainly be taking four of these meds for the rest of my life plus a baby aspiran, their importance to my health absolutely necessary.
    How does one carry these meds so that they stay dry and maintain a certain level of temperature integrity ? Another words, from getting hot and sticky ?

    How has having a cardiac event while hiking the trail changed your rational judgement , your hiking itinerary going forward ?

    Calm the fears of loved ones when you begin planning your next solo hike ?
    First of all, you should not assume that you will be taking all that medication in the future. Once you complete the rehab, you should be able to get off of most of the medication. It has been 14 years since I had stents inserted. I take three pills a day -- a blood pressure medicine, a low dose asprin, and a statin. None of them require special care. Before each hike, I count out the pills I will need. I always include one extra day of medication. I put them in zip lock plastic bag which goes in a certain pocket on my pack. I have hiked in very humid and very hot places and have never had a problem with the medicine.

    If I am flying, I keep my medication in its original container -- especially if I am leaving the country. TSA can cause you big delays if they spot drugs without prescriptions. it is better to be safe than sorry.

    I understand that your family will be concerned about your hiking alone. In my case, it caused my wife to decide to hike with me. She discovered that she enjoyed hiking. We often hike together, but over time, she learned that she doesn't always have to be there. I often hike alone. I often hike in areas without cell phone coverage, so I carry a Delorme InReach and keep it in the tracking mode. At first, she often checked the tracks, but she has pretty much gotten past that.

    You asked how having a cardiac event changed my rational judgement and my hiking itinerary. On the rational judgement issue, it caused me to pay a lot more attention to my life style. I have lost 40 lbs, watch my diet carefully, and exercise a lot more.

    My cardiac event has caused me to value hiking even more. I walk 10,000 steps every day. This month, I am the my first Grand Canyon hike of the year. Next month, I am hiking the Salkantay Inca Trail in Peru, then in May, I am doing a rim to rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon. At age 73, I have not backed off at all. The only thing that has changed is that I have worked hard to reduce the weight of my backpack. I try to limit my backpack weight to 35, but often end up with 40 lbs.

    I wish you well with your recovery.
    Last edited by Shutterbug; 03-10-2017 at 23:51.
    Shutterbug

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    K2, author of "300 zeros" suffered chest pains in VA, went home and had a 6 way by pass. 300 days later he went back and finished the AT.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  9. #9
    Registered User -Rush-'s Avatar
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    I met a hiker at Sassafras Gap out of the NOC last year that went by the trail name BraveHeart. He was an EMT and had battled some serious heart problems in the recent past. Mileage varies, but he was doing 15 mile days and doing fine.
    "Though I have lost the intimacy with the seasons since my hike, I retain the sense of perfect order, of graceful succession and surrender, and of the bold brilliance of fall leaves as they yield to death." - David Brill

  10. #10

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    Glad your OK.
    The way I see it, Id rather have a heart attack and die on a trail, than behind a desk.
    Take your medicine, precautions, etc

    But you cant really live if your afraid to die
    Or, as my daughter says
    You cant fly if your afraid to fall.

    I wouldnt quit doing things I enjoy out of increased risk personally.

    Even ultra-runners have died of heart attacks running solo in wilderness. It can happen to people that are ultra-fit as well.

    Your going to die. We all are. You may not get to choose how, but you get to choose how you live until it happens.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-11-2017 at 08:00.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    . . . How does one carry these meds so that they stay dry and maintain a certain level of temperature integrity ? Another words, from getting hot and sticky ?

    How has having a cardiac event while hiking the trail changed your rational judgement , your hiking itinerary going forward ?

    Calm the fears of loved ones when you begin planning your next solo hike ?
    For carrying meds and keeping them dry in a humid climate I am aware of two good options:
    1) Befriend a diabetic that regularly tests their blood. Diabetic test strips come in awesome little containers with build in desiccant. Have your diabetic friend save a few of their test strip containers for you. Then, place your pills in the container with a cotton ball on top to stop them from rattling and shaking around, and voila, you have the nicest, safest, driest little pill bottles ever conceived. . . or something along those lines. Hell, PM me with an address and I'll ship a handful of them to you. They also make awesome little micro-geocache containers that keep your logbooks dry if you are into that sort of thing.
    2) Place your pills in a little ziplock plastic bag with a silica gel pack included, as mentioned above, and, if hot, make sure to store the bag-o-pills in the interior of your backpack (away from the sun's heat), in a place where they won't get crushed.

    As for your family's peace of mind, get a Spot or a DeLorme satelite communication and tracking device so they can see where you are at all times and know you are just a push button away from emergency services no matter where you are on the globe. Then, go out and risk dying while doing what you love best. It's how I hope to go when my time comes.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    For
    As for your family's peace of mind, get a Spot or a DeLorme satelite communication and tracking device so they can see where you are at all times and know you are just a push button away from emergency services no matter where you are on the globe. Then, go out and risk dying while doing what you love best. It's how I hope to go when my time comes.
    Sorry, for most heart attacks this will just let them know where to pick up the body.

    Help should never be counted on in less than 12 hrs, possibly 24.
    If your scared to die, stay home.

    Most people that have a heart attack, have another within 5 years. That one often kills them. This is because people dont truly change habits. Even if they did, many people are predisposed to be much more succeptible to heart disease causes than general population. They can mitigate it...cant stop it.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-11-2017 at 10:56.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    For carrying meds and keeping them dry in a humid climate I am aware of two good options:
    1) Befriend a diabetic that regularly tests their blood. Diabetic test strips come in awesome little containers with build in desiccant. Have your diabetic friend save a few of their test strip containers for you. Then, place your pills in the container with a cotton ball on top to stop them from rattling and shaking around, and voila, you have the nicest, safest, driest little pill bottles ever conceived. . . or something along those lines. Hell, PM me with an address and I'll ship a handful of them to you. They also make awesome little micro-geocache containers that keep your logbooks dry if you are into that sort of thing.
    2) Place your pills in a little ziplock plastic bag with a silica gel pack included, as mentioned above, and, if hot, make sure to store the bag-o-pills in the interior of your backpack (away from the sun's heat), in a place where they won't get crushed.

    As for your family's peace of mind, get a Spot or a DeLorme satelite communication and tracking device so they can see where you are at all times and know you are just a push button away from emergency services no matter where you are on the globe. Then, go out and risk dying while doing what you love best. It's how I hope to go when my time comes.
    I can also supply the test strip containers. I could probably supply enough for every day of a thru hike. I keep my matches in one. Gave it several rides in the washing machine and everything stayed dry.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
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  14. #14
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutterbug View Post
    First of all, you should not assume that you will be taking all that medication in the future. Once you complete the rehab, you should be able to get off of most of the medication. It has been 14 years since I had stents inserted. I take three pills a day -- a blood pressure medicine, a low dose asprin, and a statin. None of them require special care. Before each hike, I count out the pills I will need. I always include one extra day of medication. I put them in zip lock plastic bag which goes in a certain pocket on my pack. I have hiked in very humid and very hot places and have never had a problem with the medicine.




    I understand that your family will be concerned about your hiking alone. In my case, it caused my wife to decide to hike with me. She discovered that she enjoyed hiking. We often hike together, but over time, she learned that she doesn't always have to be there. I often hike alone. I often hike in areas without cell phone coverage, so I carry a Delorme InReach and keep it in the tracking mode. At first, she often checked the tracks, but she has pretty much gotten past that.

    You asked how having a cardiac event changed my rational judgement and my hiking itinerary. On the rational judgement issue, it caused me to pay a lot more attention to my life style. I have lost 40 lbs, watch my diet carefully, and exercise a lot more.

    My cardiac event has caused me to value hiking even more. I walk 10,000 steps every day. This month, I am the my first Grand Canyon hike of the year. Next month, I am hiking the Salkantay Inca Trail in Peru, then in May, I am doing a rim to rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon. At age 73, I have not backed off at all. The only thing that has changed is that I have worked hard to reduce the weight of my backpack. I try to limit my backpack weight to 35, but often end up with 40 lbs.

    I wish you well with your recovery.
    Thanks Shutterbug . Good to hear that I may need only to carry 3 meds at some point going forward. I know my blood thinner goes away in a year but that still leaves me with 4 plus a baby aspirin . Twelve weeks of Cardiac Rehab, three days a week will be beneficial in getting my stamina back and losing some weight .

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    For carrying meds and keeping them dry in a humid climate I am aware of two good options:
    1) Befriend a diabetic that regularly tests their blood. Diabetic test strips come in awesome little containers with build in desiccant. Have your diabetic friend save a few of their test strip containers for you. Then, place your pills in the container with a cotton ball on top to stop them from rattling and shaking around, and voila, you have the nicest, safest, driest little pill bottles ever conceived. . . or something along those lines. Hell, PM me with an address and I'll ship a handful of them to you. They also make awesome little micro-geocache containers that keep your logbooks dry if you are into that sort of thing.
    2) Place your pills in a little ziplock plastic bag with a silica gel pack included, as mentioned above, and, if hot, make sure to store the bag-o-pills in the interior of your backpack (away from the sun's heat), in a place where they won't get crushed.

    As for your family's peace of mind, get a Spot or a DeLorme satelite communication and tracking device so they can see where you are at all times and know you are just a push button away from emergency services no matter where you are on the globe. Then, go out and risk dying while doing what you love best. It's how I hope to go when my time comes.
    Fortunately I'm not a diabetic but instead a victim of extensive lousy family history for cardiovascular disease. I've always considered myself healthy ,eat well , stay active , etc.
    I definitely could stand to lose some belly fat. The cardiologist even basically said that taking care of myself kept me from having a more severe , possibly fatal heart attack .

    My wife may push me to eventually get a Delorme Spot for her peace of mind. She was already a basket case from a earlier non cardiac event that happened years ago.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  15. #15

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    Sorry to hear this, your daughter was very brave in getting you help.

    While not a heart attack, several years ago I went into afib on the trail. I was about two miles from a road. It wasn't the first time I had been in afib, so I knew all the possible outcomes. I walked out, but did have to stop midway wondering whether I was in serious trouble. When I got to the road, I optimistically estimated maybe I could climb a small hill and camp. I was about two days into a week long section hike. When that little hill kicked my ass, I went back to the road and asked for help from two ladies finishing a river walk.

    Hikes after that were shorter for a period and I do not recall doing any solo hikes between then and when I had my ablations. It is corrected now for and number years. I still solo hike if that's how the trip is planned. I always leave an itinerary.

    Some points:
    Know your disease. For instance, worst case for me was stroke, but I was on a blood thinner and my overall risk was very low, low risk factors in general.

    Be conservative in estimating abilities. Work up slowly to long mileage or multi-day trips. Slow down and smell the roses.

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, you may not be thinking straight. Midway I had to stop. I sat and stared at the river for a bit. I don't know exactly long I was sitting quite still but the guy walking his dog was alert enough to ask me if I was OK. I really didn't want to bother him so I told him I would be all right. Then there was the hill episode. I ended needing to be cardio converted.

    I don't have any heart meds anymore except a bp med and an aspirin. I do have two other meds and take a few different vitamins. I keep everything in a 7 day pill case inside a zip lock. That works for me, some of the pills are gel caps, and I have had them in some very hot places. Humidities are generally really low though. A desiccant sounds like a decent idea. The place that seems to affect my meds the most is inside a hot car. I try never to leave any bottles with gel caps in there for any period of time. Don't leave your last set of pills in your car while you section hike for instance.

    I tell them I walked out the last time, and times before that with blistered feet and twisted ankles. I also tell them I have learned when to bail. I tell them I prepared for the weather and I have everything I need with me, that I can handle being stuck for a bit. I leave my itinerary and tell my wife which ranger to call if I don't contact her 24 hours post-hike.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  16. #16

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    Glad to hear you're ok.

    Lost Acoustic Blues
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  17. #17
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deer Hunter View Post
    Glad to hear you're ok.
    Thanks Randall !
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  18. #18
    Registered User NY HIKER 50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    This past Tuesday I suffered a moderate heart attack while hiking in Shenandoah Nat'l Park. I fortunately was hiking with my daughter who hiked out to Skyline Drive to call 911. I was lucky in may ways since I usually hike solo . My Right Coronary Artery (RCA) was 100% blocked which left me incapacitated for 20 minutes .
    I eventually managed to get up using my trekking poles to pull myself up. Cold rain had begun to fall as temperatures had dropped into the 40's Again...I was lucky this time.
    My daughter made the 911 call, as I too somehow found a sweet spot where I stopped to rest the final time. The Ambulance arrived and I stayed alive.

    An Angioplasty and stent insertion and 3 days in the hospital later I am recovering at home. Four new cardiovascular drugs to add to my Statin(cholesterol forming inhibititor) which I've taken for 15 years.


    My questions: Noting that I most certainly be taking four of these meds for the rest of my life plus a baby aspiran, their importance to my health absolutely necessary.
    How does one carry these meds so that they stay dry and maintain a certain level of temperature integrity ? Another words, from getting hot and sticky ?

    How has having a cardiac event while hiking the trail changed your rational judgement , your hiking itinerary going forward ?

    Calm the fears of loved ones when you begin planning your next solo hike ?
    I don't think anyone addressed to your question.

    I carry my meds in a re-purposed match container. This keeps them dry and not sticky. These are the ones that are sold all over. You may need more than one and have them sent ahead. As far as activity you need to speak to your doctor, not here whereve advice but anyone can give advice. Mine is good though.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    Thanks Randall !
    Cleaned out my inbox. I saw where you tried to pm me.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    SNIP

    Even ultra-runners have died of heart attacks running solo in wilderness. It can happen to people that are ultra-fit as well.

    Your going to die. We all are. You may not get to choose how, but you get to choose how you live until it happens.
    Jim Fixx
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