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  1. #1
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    Default For those of you who had Cardiac Surgery and then hiked.

    My 66 year old buddy would like to finish the second half of the AT trail. He just recently had bypass surgery and is recovering. He would love to hear some success stories of those who had a similar experience and got back on the trail...Thanks

  2. #2
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    Get the book "300 Zeros" by Dennis Blanchard.

  3. #3

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    I think Big Earl up in NH is an inspiration. I don't know the extent of his "repairs" but did all the lists afterwards

    http://48x12.com/earlandsue.shtml

    I took the picture on their last summit (Mt Madison). We skipped most of the celebration as it was darn cold and miserable.

  4. #4
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    i had a major heart attack and a quad by-pass one day. couple months later i was running and backpacking. no problem

  5. #5

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    Went to see the Doctor, he does an echogram and says "I give ya six months to live" okay I sez, but I don't think I can pay ya...the Doctor gave me an additional 6 months.

  6. #6

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    Get in touch with Ironheart; he has quite a story to tell.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/hearthike/

  7. #7
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    I had a 95% blockage a few years ago while driving from Atlanta to Athens, pulled in to the Lawrenceville GA ER and had two stents placed about 36 hours later. I was outrageously lucky, had I ignored the warning signs I would have likely suffered a massive infarction. As it ended up, my troponin levels peaked at .6 (point six) because I got supportive therapy so quickly. (To put things in perspective, Sig Hansen on Deadliest Catch had troponin levels over 60 when he had a heart attack last season.)

    I see my cardiologist twice a year. It's been 4 years and 2 weeks since my episode and I'm preparing to hit the AT in the foreseeable future after thinking about it since age 10. I've lost weight (still losing, to be precise) and my activity has steadily increased over the past 4 years. I now take 2 prescriptions a day instead of the 5 I was originally on, and my rate of recovery from activity is now to the point that my trainer has to actually plan my workouts before I arrive; he used to have time between stations to plan on the fly. (Yes, I spend money so someone makes sure I'm doing things correctly as well as directing my activities to help me attain my goals and to dial 911 if I should happen to keel over mid-workout. )

    My cardiologist says get out there and do whatever I want, as long as it's heart-friendly.

    I haven't smoked in ages, haven't smoked regularly in 30+ years, and continue to shift my diet more and more towards "heart healthy" from "better than average." As soon as I have the time I'll apply for a new FAA Medical Certificate and get my pilot's license current.

    All this is to say that I advocate the teachings of that great philosopher Jimmy Buffett:

    "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead."

  8. #8
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    Thanks all for your info and replies. A real encouragement

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ncmtns View Post
    My 66 year old buddy would like to finish the second half of the AT trail. He just recently had bypass surgery and is recovering. He would love to hear some success stories of those who had a similar experience and got back on the trail...Thanks
    I had a quadruple bypass 14 years ago. This summer, my son observed that I am in the strongest hiking shape of my life. The surgery slowed me down for a few months, but it has been full speed ahead since then. This year I have done 4 hikes of 50 miles or more including the Inca Trail, England's Coast2Coast, Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, and the Wonderland Trail. At age 74, I am still a strong hiker.

    That being said, it is really important for your friend to make changes in his life-style. I know that everyone is different, but the issue for me was body weight. At age 22, I left the military in top shape. Then, I gained one pound a year for 40 years. One pound isn't that much but over time it builds up. I have now lost 30 lbs, increased my exercise and watch what I eat more carefully. I am keeping my LDL level below 75 and my HDL above 50. Those are important issues for one who has needed a bypass.
    Shutterbug

  10. #10
    Registered User Debbie's Avatar
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    While I did not have bypass surgery, I did have surgery March 20 of 2017 to replace a ruptured mitral valve. Since then (medically cleared) I have taken two section hikes, successfully, and am about to go on a third to finish my last 50 miles to complete a section hike of the AT. Yes, it was scary at first, especially since I also have an anxiety disorder. I am intimately acquainted with fear and endless "what ifs?". I'm not touting medication as a cure-all, but the anti-anxiety meds certainly gave me more confidence. I also had a shuttler who knew what I had gone through that I kept in touch with. Taking a trusted partner with you can also be a comfort. Just knowing that he has safety nets may give your friend the confidence he needs to get out there.
    "Sea Eagle"

  11. #11
    Registered User Debbie's Avatar
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    I forgot to add that I also located daily bailout points just in case. Not that I needed them, but knowing they were there broke the hikes down into smaller chunks that eased my concerns. I also had a list of possible resource people along the way, just in case.
    "Sea Eagle"

  12. #12

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    I was Lead Designer in my own Landscape Contracting and Design Co simultaneously Managing a medium size plant nursery and contracting company for another company. 8o hr wks were the norm. Went in for a med exam. Was told sternly by three very serious M.D.'s in the Cardiology Dept as they gathered around up close "we advise you don't leave the hospital; you need immediate life saving open heart surgery to replace a mitral valve." They were shaving my chest within a few hrs. Less than 12 hrs later under large surgical room lights in a completely green tiled room the aliens had me count back from 100 to 96 while lying down. 14% don't wake up from the situation. I told my youngest brother to not let loved ones or me suffer if anything went wrong. I made him agree. I couldn't walk up a flight a stairs for months after. Got caught up in Oxcodone use for pain. 3 yrs later was finally in physical and mental condition to do something I wanted to for many yrs - thru wander the AT. On one cycling training day three months before the anticipated April NOBO start time time I was struck by a vehicle going 75 mph as I walked the bike across the road. Woke up from the car accident in the street resulting in a MEDIVAC. They thought my back was broken or spine was severely injured. The car accident resulted in a broken ankle, 48 stiches in skull/elbow/arm/shoulder, ligament damage, and a blue/yellow/purple/orange bruise from the neck to my upper hind legs. I did everthing I knew I could to get better to meet the AT start date. Doctors said they never saw someone heal as fast. I was in a boot for about 2 months and on crutches still two wks before meeting that April NOBO start date. Getting through GA was so hard. Only allowed 3 naproxen (Alleve) pain pills/day.

  13. #13

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    I bet you are pretty good at predicting upcoming changes in barometric pressure. Quite an impressive recovery. Mind over matter.

  14. #14

    Talking Another hiker with heart problems - add me to the list

    I picked the most recent thread to latch on to. Two other recent thread also have some good info:
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...ighlight=heart
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...ighlight=heart

    The signs began sporadically enough early in the year - pain in the breastbone, some shortness of breath, and tired arms. They didn't last long. I would usually slow my pace to a crawl or rest for a while, then resume at a slower pace with no more pains. Complicating matters was (1) I hadn't been working out and thus was not "in shape" and (2) Nearly all of my hiking this year was in the west at 7,000-10,000'. And some hikes went without a hitch: 2 night backpack at Big Bend National Park with heavy pack because of carrying 8 liters of water, a day hike in the Rockies gaining 1,800' to the 10,500' among others.

    The problems exacerbated when backpacking Isle Royale National Park in July. Over terrain much easier than the AT, the pains increased in frequency and length. Did some reading when I got home, talked to my girlfriend, and knew I needed to be examined.

    EKG, Chest X-ray, Echogram but the clincher was the stress test on August 23. The cardiologist showed me the results on the computer, saying that I likely had at least one major blockage and needed catheterization promptly. 5 days later, I was the recipient of five (5) stents.

    Spent one night in the hospital. Prior to this, I didn't take any prescriptions or aspirin, at least not since a brief period in the mid-2000s. I did take natural supplements such as fish oil, COQ10, Nattiokinase, and magnesium. Now, I'm on Brilinta, low-dose aspirin, a Crestor generic, and Metoprolol. Figured it's best to follow doctor's orders!

    Yesterday, one week after the procedure, I hiked two miles on a level section in the Green Mountains (yes, Vermont has some flat areas!). Felt OK but I know I can't rush things. Yesterday (and today) was very hot & humid which didn't help. I'm optimistic that I can resume hiking but level-headed enough to recognize my mortality.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories on this thread and the thread linked above. We constitute a great support group!


    PS - this all happened after I turned 70 in April. Coincidence?
    Last edited by Cookerhiker; 09-04-2018 at 17:36.

  15. #15
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    Add me to the list.

    In 2010, at 45 years old, I had a quadruple bypass. No heart muscle damage from heart attack so was hiking again within 6 months. Arteries continued to clog, I continued to hike. Last April, at 52, I had three stents after an atherectomy to clear some of the blockage. Hiked again within a month. I've put in 6 trips so far since November 2017 and two weekends ago, I did an 18 mile day faster than I have in 20 years.

    I did start taking Repatha after the stents and for me it may be the solution we've been looking for. I'm training now for a thru-hike and have no doubt my heart is healthy and will handle it just fine.

    l0ngterm

    PS> feel free to contact me with any questions.

  16. #16
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Not Bypass, but definitely Cardiac Surgery - Multiple times.
    I am on my 3rd Aortic Valve Replacement (Not many of us around) with 4 full blown cardiac surgeries. (Yes, Sternum Cracking, Heart-lung Machine 12-19 hour surgeries. I had my aorta burst in recovery after my first surgery and lost all my blood, but was saved by the grace of god and 2 cardiac surgeons just finishing up on another patient. I was told they didn't even have time to change scrubs to save my life. To top that off, my nurse for the first 2 nights afterward were none other than Charles Cullen, the Angel of Death (or F'ing Charlie as I called him for not giving me my Fentanyl)

    In my last surgery in 2010, They not only replaced my Aortic valve but my entire ascending aorta to the arch.

    I was up and hiking within a few moths of each surgery. It was the sternum healing and devastating trauma from heavy scarring in the chest cavity that caused most of the recovery time. (Each surgery causes more adhesion of the heart to the chest wall, I am told)

    Between my 1st and 4th surgery, I did all of PA & NJ twice, and Shendandoah N End to PA Border in a few section hikes. I felt very strong and virtually unstoppable after my surgeries. However, I did have to exit backpacking for a few years due to child rearing, scouts, sports coaching and life changes, but I plan to get active again, although my hindrance now s recovery from a complete severed quadriceps .
    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

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