Bodybuilding and BAV!

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T

taranjit

I am currently living with both BAV and Bodybuilding, and to whom the idea of living without BOTH of them also does not sound too appealing... I mean, I know surgery could correct BAV but I have been told that I should forget competitive bodybuilding from now on... Please don't get me wrong - I very well respect the value of life and I know this beautiful life has a lot more to offer than just bodybuilding, but it surely is my passion... and I could not see myself happier to live with bodybuilding and without abnormal valve...

I am 33, and a competitive bodybuilder... In fact I started bodybuilding at the age of 27 until when I was a recreational marathon runner... Just when I decided to stop distance running and start bodybuilding to realize my childhood dream in 1996, in a routine checkup I was told by my doctor that I had a congenital BAV... and that I should do activities like running, etc rather than bodybuilding... But just 2 weeks of weight-training at that point had given me such a wonderful feeling that I decided to continue anyway.. then I grew from a skinny marathon runner to a brawny bodybuilder.... All along these 6 years my heart's function remained more or less the same (i.e. moderate reggurgitation, E.F. 60%+, L.V. (sys) ~ 5cm-5.5cm, L.V. (dys) ~4cm)... I did worsened although very slowly... Last December, (2001) the results were worsened to E.F. 56%, L.V. (sys) ~ 5.7, L.V. (dys) ~4.5cm... and even worse when I was preparing for a contest this summer in July'02 to E.F. <50%, L.V. (sys) 6.7cm, L.V. (dys) ~5cm... that was alarming and since then I have been on the watch list for surgery... Since I had worked so hard to compete, doctor let me continue at that time... I won one regional show and then in US Nationals qualifier, missed to qualify to compete in US nationals by just one spot in the most competitive class... Just when I was finally starting to realize my dreams I was told to stop altogether or do very little... Then for last 3 months, I took time off from training (not completely but quite a bit), and even took some herbal formulae along with getting it monitored by my cardiologist.... And last month I got echo again and numbers were somewhat better: E.F. ~55%+, L.V. (sys) ~ 5.8cm, L.V. (dys) <4.5cm.. that was done overseas.. My cardiologist here in US has agreed (on my request) to wait for a couple more months before heart catherization that he wanted to do... The results seems to have gotten better?? I had taken a lot of ephedrine/caffine during contest time and stressed my body really hard... I am not taking it now.. or that I am not working out as hard.. or may be these herbs are working to some extent... may be this improvement is a machine error/fluctuation.. or may be these results are correct but temporary... Whatever it is, I do realize that I am a few months to a year or so away from a valve replacement surgery... With this background, I wanted to know from you the following:

(1) I would love to keep bodybuilding and keep competing, if not before surgery, definitely after surgery... Please share your opinion... I know 95% of the responses would be negative... Although I would like to hear from all, but I am hoping to hear from someone who has been able to compete after the ordeal...

I thought of several other questions before, but this pretty much is the only real one... Once thru this, I will ask the other ones later...

thanks a lot everyone
Taranjit Singh
2002 Mr Monterey Bay, California

"I love bodybuilding - so much that I honestly fear the idea that it might be taken away from me one day."
 

Nancy

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2001
Messages
9,896
Location
upstate New York
Hi Taranjit-

Welcome to the site. You'll find lots of wonderful information here and many cyber friends also.

There are several bodybuilders here, I'm not sure about competitive bodybuilders, but I'm sure they'll be along to give their opinions. By the way, Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a couple of valve surgeries, I believe. There are others here who know the story on his heart valves, better than I do. I hope they'll tell the story.

My husband is the patient and has had 3 valve surgeries, plus lots of other difficult things,

I'd say, your cardiologist will be your best friend throughout this period in your life. You have some difficult issues. It's important to allow all the necessary testing to be done. The test results plus your own symptoms will tell the doctors when it's time for surgery. Basically your heart will overcompensate for its lack of pumping abilities by getting larger and more muscular, but there will come a time when it cannot do this anymore. Enlargement of the heart because of insufficiency is not a good thing. The trick is to have the surgery before you do some permanent damage to your heart.

Unfortunately, when you need surgery, you need surgery. There aren't any options. Medications can help delay it for a time, but when the tests show the need and you aren't feeling well, then it's time to get it done. It is lifesaving surgery.

You sound like you're in marvelous physical shape and you've obviously taken very good care of your body, so surgery will be easier for you than for some others.

I wish you all the best, and I hope we will see you here often.
 
M

Mara

Hey there Taranjit
So the story on Arnie is that he had the Ross Procedure and blew out the first new aortic valve by sneaking off to the hospital gym and trying to go full tilt too soon. What a bonehead. It's going to take a good 6 weeks to feel normal-ish after surgery and up to a year to be back to normal again. I think we were all cautioned about doing too much too soon.
Nancy is right: if you need surgery, you need it and putting it off only makes it worse and probably would put an end to your body building career.

The stuff I have read, and I am sure there are others who disagree, is that any hard, heaving lifting is not good for the aortic valve. Even after surgery I was cautioned not to do any really heaving lifting, the kind where you grunt and strain because of the stress it puts on the aortic valve and aoritc root.

Truthfully, you'll need to talk to your doctor and cardiologist. You might be able to hook up with a good doc who can counsel you on natural body building and give you a program that will help you train.
As sad as it may seem that you might not do heavy muscle training again, at least you'd be alive. And you can still do all kinds of other physical activities, you might just have to go easy on the Hammer Strength machines. Would that really be so bad?
You might find that tri-athalon is your new thing, or cycling or rowing or some other equally as cool sport. I can sympathize with how hard it might be to get off bodybuilding, my good pal in law school was Mr. Akron (Ohio) and Mr. Cleveland (Ohio) he loved the gym, but after law school he had to cut back because of work and he really suffered, he still trains but not like he used to, no more 5 hours a day in the gym. There should be a book about how to get off sports. You'll do fine. just don't let the gym abd the guys at the gym, mess with your head so you hurt yourself by not getting the surgery when you need it.
There are lots of world-class athletes out there who have had valve replacement surgery. It is do-able.

You should stay away from all those supplements that have ephedra or kava kava or any of that junk. That stuff will kill you, no kidding. Look what happened to the people who took Fen Phen. ugh. I hate to rank on the supplements but a lot of that stuff is trash and can really mess you up. My pal, the bodybuilder, Mick had a gym buddy who was on some of that stuff with chromium picolonate and now that guy is a severe diabetic. No more competitions for him. Please be careful with your supplements. Even herbal stuff is not always safe. Please see a good physician who understand those supplements and get him to help you organize a protocol. Met Rx and EAS just want you to buy more supplements. I digress..........
-Mara
 
T

Tom

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding

Hi Taranjit,

I also had a bicuspid aortic valve and had valve replacement 3 years ago (homograft) at age 45. I had lifted weights all my life, and did not stop before surgery. Now three years later I still lift weights 3-4 times per week. I don't lift real heavy, do dead lifts, heavy squats, but do all the basics and keep my body in good shape. I stopped for 8 weeks after my AVR, then started back very slowly. I also do a lot of cardio, mainly biking. I have always heard that if you don't lift really heavy weights and you breathe continuously without straining you should be alright. Everyone is different, so definitely consult with your cardiologist, or even get a second opinion. There is a well-known cardiologist who is an avid athlete himself (biking), Herman Falsetti, who deals with athletes with heart problems. I think he is in California, maybe San Diego.
Good luck, and let us know what you find out.
Tom
 
M

medtronic of borg

wts

wts

Hi,
My bor. in law is a pro lifter. He started to lift when he was 13. He is now 50. A couple of years ago he realised it was time to slow down. He had peaked at around 600lbs. He had a 52inch chest and 26inch bicepts. BIG BOY. So he came to me(RN at one time) asked if it was true that compulsive lifting can damage his heart. After that he began to slow down. First he swiched to a low fat diet. I mean LOW. He eliminated squots and cut back to only two hours. Lowering his his wts over the course of a year by 50%. Today he lifts about 45mins/day. But rides a bike to work approx 30miles one way. And plans to continue to decrease slowly a bit more before leveling off. Granted he is no longer as big. But he says he feels better. Which was a complete surprise to him. Now this is no stupid man! He is the CEO of a medium sized Co. a father of three and a 3rd degree black belt in ty-quondo(I know it is miss spelled). He is also a volunteer for the special olympics.
 
J

Jean

If one has a homograft why do you have to be careful after a year or so...wouldn't your own cells have taken over the valve and now it is yours? I'm not a heavy weight lifter, but my cardio has no restrictions on me...I lift 80 to 100 # grain bags and 45 # hay bales daily as well as wrestling animals up to 150# around to care for them. I walk and cycle for cardio. I know its not up to what your level is, but never thought about the valve not being yours after a while. Or is heavy lifting bad on the heart anyway you cut it?
 
I

Igor

Swimming after AVR?

Swimming after AVR?

How about swimming for cardiovascular work out?
I am about 5.5 months post op.
I used to bike 120-150 mls a week before the surgery and now am avoiding bicycling outside as a coumadin patient.
Instead, I have started to swim on 2-3 times a week basis since about 4 months after the surgery and spend 50 minutes to an hour exercising to cover 1,750 to 2,000 meters. I also use a bike trainer 2-3 times a week for an hour a day and do not do much weight lifting though.
I'm wondering if that is OK to swim after the AVR as sometimes after swimming I feel a bit tired and have to take a break after 2-3 days of training.
What is the suggested exercise intensity for AVR patient? Is anybody on coumadin biking outside?
 

Arlyss

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2002
Messages
447
Location
southern California
Heavy weight Lifting and BAV

Heavy weight Lifting and BAV

My husband was a very serious weight lifter from the time he was very young. His bicuspid aortic valve had to be replaced in 1990. Interestingly, he was not given any exercise restrictions after the Hall-Medtronic valve was put in place. He also was not warned that he was at risk of problems with the aorta itself. He had to face that reality when his ascending aortic aneurysm was discovered, about 11 years after his valve surgery. From that time forward, no heavy weight lifiting is allowed for the rest of his life. As others have mentioned, aerobic activity is typically all right, but anything that puts pressue on the aorta is dangerous.
For those with BAV, it is not just the valve that is abnormal. The walls of the aorta itself have a problem - they are not as elastic and able to stretch and contract as normal aortic tissue is. (There are medical papers with pictures and diagrams comparing the fragile BAV aortic tissue to normal aortic tissue.) So it only has to happen once - you only have to forget to breath once - excessive pressure can stretch or tear the aorta, and after that aortic tissue has stretched or torn, there is no going back!
There are so many strong, otherwise healthy men and women affected by bicuspid aortic disease. Perhaps the genetic and other research currently underway will some day find a solution that will result in restoring healthy aortic tissue. Arlyss
 
G

greggo32

Decisions Decisions

Decisions Decisions

Let's cut to the chase on this post and address the most pressing (not bench pressing) issues. It is wonderful that everyone is supportive and positive; however, we are talking about life. We are talking about indulging an individual's compulsion and natural opiate addiction (endogenous opiates from exercise). Mind you, my position is well developed. I use to be very athletic. To the point that I had to exercise in order to feel good! OK, back to the issue. The fellow who started this post wants to have his cake and eat it to. To continue with heavy exercise in the face of a decreasing ejection fraction and an increasing Left ventricular end diastolic dimension is pure insanity. It is a sure way to end up in the Obituary Section of the newspaper. Listen to the doctor.....
 
M

medtronic of borg

cold turkey

cold turkey

I must speak up when I read the last message. A lifter who lifted as he described has altered his bodys anatomy and physiology. By no means should he stop cold turkey. People who have done so have heart problems suddenly appear ( who didn't have in the first place) and depressive swings. Yes not all.( but it isn't a risk he needs to take)I agree it is time to cut way back. But slowly.

One other thing I want to clarify. My bro in law did not weigh 600lbs but lifted up to 600lbs. He is now lifting only about 300. I also spoke to him yesturday and he isn't biking any more now that it is belowe frezzzzzingggg!
 
T

taranjit

thanks for feedback!

thanks for feedback!

I would like to thank everyone who took time to provide their valuable feedback.. I think there is a lot of information on this site, and I am glad to have discovered this treasure... As I mentioned in my original mail, I have more questions and that I will ask in a few days in a different thread as they are unrelated to the issue of this thread... I hope that more people like myself will have the oppurtunity to see this post in the future, and would be able to get in touch with me to share their experiences with weights and BAV/AVR... Once again thanks everyone...


The following is just for Greg on his reply:
I was a little shocked and disheartened after reading your reply, not because you talked against heavy lifting, but because of your tone... You pretty much said the same thing others have said, but in a very different tone... other than that tone, I could not extract any extra info from your post... So if you could be different than the rest in replying or communicating the same idea, please do not be surprised at me wanting to maintain a somewhat different lifestyle than the rest... In fact, originally I was looking at all of us the same way, i.e. all of us with not so perfect heart valves.. but you have singled me out claiming to be ".... an individual's compulsion and natural opiate addiction (endogenous opiates from exercise)". I wonder why you called it a disorder/addiction... Would you use the same terminology for people who do just the opposite?... i.e. they should exercise to save their life but they don't??... Some of the people who need by-pass surgery come to my mind... What is that disorder called - "UN-natural opiate addiction (endogenous opiates from NON-exercise)??? Not just you my friend, there are a whole lot of folks out there who passionately speak so much against someone's passion for exercise in the form of a disorder.....

You also missed that I was seeking info as to wether I could lift/bodybuild AFTER surgery, as you used ".... To continue with heavy exercise in the face of a decreasing ejection fraction and an increasing Left ventricular end diastolic dimension is pure insanity.".... Why did you assume that I am currently lifting HEAVY and am INSANE? Did I not say that in fact my left ventricular dimensions and E.F. are improving because of the changes I have recently made... I agree with you that "....we are talking about life".. I mentioned that I love my life and am doing several things at the moment to make sure I keep my life, perhaps more things than most of you did prior to surgery... I have found that there are actually some herbs out there that improves one's E.F. and Left Ventricular Hypertrophy under any given circumstances... although I don't know for sure just yet, hence don't want to say much... I am also actively seeing my cardio and surgeon and following their advice... Yes I do intend to maintain my lifestyle as much as possible after surgery, IF possible... and for that I am seeking info and help, and not bragging about my insanity of lifting heavy...

Have you ever heard of a guy with only one leg (and the other cast leg) running 100 meters in 12 seconds?... Ever heard of paralysed person whom doctor said would never walk, but runs marathons today?? there are many success stories out there about people who challenged themselves inspite of adversities... It probably is perhaps my choice to find out how far I can go in adverse circumstances.... Who knows people like myself will one day be able to shed more light into the medical research on people living with AVR... -- how heavy is that vague word "HEAVY" they most often use for different people??... How many repetition of any given weight an individual can lift before it is not HEAVY anymore??... You know my friend we don't know about that much... and from the info on this site, it seems that "LIFTING WEIGHTS" is the restriction surgeons most often use, if not the only restirction... Please help me research that a bit rather than wishing me "....sure way to end up in the Obituary Section of the newspaper"....... Although bodybuilding requires lifting fairly heavy weights, but one should also be able to maintain much of muscle mass with lifting average weight for more repetitions...

Sorry if I overstated anything while being a little emotional... I was declared INSANE with no respect for life for just asking if I could maintain my current lifestyle after AVR..... And I still appreciate Greg's reply bacause it stimulated my senses in a different way while stating the same thing others had said and something I was expecting to hear from everyone... And I am not the guy who only bodybuilds and does nothing else in life... I am a husband, and a well educated professional (Master's degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering)... I work for the firstever company in the world that has developed technology for the early detection of breast cancer and we are continuing to do more... Bodybuilding to me is an outlet and to channel out my energies into something positive... I simply love it a lot and do not want to quit at an early age of 33.....
 
J

John Cochran

Jean,
You wrote:
If one has a homograft why do you have to be careful after a year or so...wouldn't your own cells have taken over the valve and now it is yours?
It is important to understand that this statement is WRONG. With a conventional homograft, your own cells do NOT repopulate the valve. This is true ONLY with the CryoLife SynerGraft homografts. Please discuss this with your cardiologist; you are making conclusions based on a completely erroneous basis.

--John
 
M

Mara

If Taranjit wants to bodybuild post-op only his cardio and surgeon can tell him what he can and cannot do. We all know some basic truths that apply to all valve replacement patients, but Taranjit maybe in a position that he can take more physically than someone who has not been on the rigorouse bodybuilding-competition-training schedule and diet.

I agree with Greg to a point, there are many folks out there who get "addicted" to the gym, my pal Mick, the bodybuilder was one. He could not ever skip a day no matter what, even if he was ill, the gym burned down, law school finals, the Bar exam, he "had" to go to feel "right". Ex-pro and college sports players have a terrible time when they have career-ending injuries and/or just get too old. There are some really interesting books out on sports psychology , but I don't think anyone has written one for athletes on how to get off sports. Taranjit just needs to get with his docs and find an acceptable alternative to what might injure him in the future.

People who are couch potatoes, I think are a different story. As a former couch potato, it's not that I didn't want to be fit, it's just that I never had the time. IT's all about excuses.

Anyway, to compare valve replacement folks to the CABG folks is unfair. our poblems are not induced because we sit on our butts and eat junk food. I think everyone on here takes some form of exercise on a regular basis, some, like Sylvia' Joey do several things, others, like me, are happy doing one, the FIRM videos.
Bodybuilding and heavy muscle training is not something that appeals to everyone, nor should it. But, everyone on here does what feels right and what fits in best with their lifestyle.

Taranjit, you talk to your doctors and see what they tell you, don't listen to the muscle-heads at the gym they may not fully understand your situation. We, here, want you to be safe, heathly, and happy.
-Mara
 

RobThatsMe

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2001
Messages
1,439
Location
USA - TN
Hi taranjit,

Just thought I would add my own personal experiences on this topic.

I was also an avid body builder! 15 yrs of it, 5 days a week at the gym. I thought I was in perfect health.

Then I had a ascending aortic dissection. It came out of the blue, I was dieing, rushed to the hospital, had emergency surgery, they told my wife I had a 3 to 6 % chance of surviving the surgery. Woke up with a mechanical heart valve and 4 inches of dacron tubing for my aorta at the aortic root area.

That was 2 1/2 years ago. My doctors prohibited me from lifting heavy weights for the rest of my life. I now do high rep sets, and can start toned, but the much of the bulk has left. Also, some of the medications I have to take slow my metabolism so, the battle of the bulge is on-going.

Many people in the medical professions have told me that dissections and aneurysms seem to happen to many weight lifters. I mostly heard this from nurses working in the ER and ICU and see these occurances first hand.

If you have a serious heart valve condition, I would have yourslef checked with CT scans to rule out any other weaknesses that may be happening alonh your aorta.

Dissections and aneurysms are silent killers. Mostly because they often go undetected. Having a CT body scan can rule this out and also give you the confedence to continue with aggressive workouts if that is your choice.

Good luck and good health,

Rob

ps. you can read my narrative in the member profiles, or e mail me if you want to talk further on this topic.
 
A

ALCapshaw

Interesting comments Rob.

Please tell us what drugs (er..medications) lower metabolism.

Also, can anyone tell me exactly why someone with a Mechanical Valve cannot have an MRI? (i.e. what would happen to a mechanical valve during an MRI and it's effect on the patient.

'AL'
 

RobThatsMe

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2001
Messages
1,439
Location
USA - TN
Hi Al,

I have a mechanical heart valve and I have had both MRI's and CT scans.. No problem. Although the MRI was an MRA type. You may want to check with your doctor on this. I have these tests done on a regular basis.

The drugs that lower your metabolism are Beta Blockers. Beta Blockers: 1) slow your heart rate. (which slows your metabolism), and 2) lowers your blood pressure.

More info:

How are AORTIC ANEURYSMS detected?
Patients sometimes detect an aneurysm by feeling a pulsating mass in the abdomen, or it may be found by their physician during a routine physical examination. The best way to detect unsuspected aortic aneurysms is by an ultrasound or CAT scan of the abdomen. Ultrasound is quick, inexpensive, non-invasive, and accurate; if the aorta can be seen, the presence of an aneurysm can be identified or excluded. CAT scans of the abdomen remain the most accurate tests for aortic aneurysm, both for initial detection and for determining aneurysm size. They provide information equal to MRI scans.

Regards,
Rob
 
J

John Cochran

The issue with mechanical valves and MRI's has to do with how magnetic resonance (the "MR" part of MRI) affects certain metals. It can cause them to heat up, which is not good for something your blood is flowing through! This is also an issue with pacemakers and defibrillators that are implanted.

Just one more reason why people need to carry Medic Alert types of identification.

--John
 

RobThatsMe

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2001
Messages
1,439
Location
USA - TN
Hi John,

Good point, but in many cases it is OK.

Here is a clip from the St Judes Web Site.

Is it okay for me to undergo diagnostic tests (e.g., MRI, CT scans)?

Mechanical heart valves are made of materials that are compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and X-rays. But it is important to check with your physician before any diagnostic testing is done, even if the test is for a health problem that is not heart-related.

Rob
 

Granbonny

Beloved Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2002
Messages
5,710
Location
Georgia
Addiction to Running

Addiction to Running

My husband's best man in our wedding..37 years ago, became addicted to running. His doctor told him he was the only person he knew who was making $100.000 a year and dying of malnutrition.:( Haven't heard from him in years. Hope he is still living. Bonnie
 
T

taranjit

Thanks Rob and others for more info...

Rob, I have a few questions:
1) I would like to know what "Dissections" and "Aneurysms" are... If you have some info handy, please forward me.. else I will talk to my doctor in the next visit...

2) You mentioned Aortic Aneurysms can be detected by ultrasound or CT.... Can these tests be ordered by my doctor considering my condition (i.e. covered by insurance) or these tests are generally conducted thru a lab by paying them... In case I go to a lab, do I ask them to do an ultrasound of my abdomen and check for Aneurysms?? When we go for echo, don't they also check that??? anyways I will make sure I talk to my doc on that and get it checked...

3) How do I get Dissection checked? CT??

4) From you experience, is there any other thing I need to be careful about while on a lifting regimen than the following:

(i) Heart valve's general condition (e.g. E.F., ventricular hypertrophy, calcification, etc)
(ii) Aortic root condition (aorta is it?)
(iii) Dissections
(iv) Aneurysms

I would like to make sure I am doing things when my health allows it.. I will not mind spending extra money to do those extra tests...
thanks..
taranjit
 
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