Powerlifting

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Joe Rodgers

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May 16, 2019
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I am 56 year old male and until recently competed in powerlifting on March 30 I squatted 450 lbs, benched 350 lbs and deadlifted 540 lbs. I wanted to start competing in strongman events again, so I requested a complete physical and echocardiogram. The echo took place on April 23rd and the Cardiologist said my heart was fine, BUT my aorta root was enlarged (4.6 cm). His instructions were to walk more and keep weights under 10 - 15 pounds another echo is scheduled for one year ... it was honestly one of the saddest days of my life. I still go to the gym and keep the weights under 155 pounds and reps in the 15 - 20 range. Are there any people still lifting heavy in this group? Is it possible to have surgery and return to heavy lifting? I am a large man that has lifted heavy my entire life, could a larger aorta root be normal for me? Sorry for the questions I was taken by complete surprise....
 

Gordo60

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Apr 3, 2019
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Australia (Sunshine Coast)
Welcome.

Try a search on TheGymGuy who’s a power lifter who had the surgery then returned to competitive lifting albeit younger. However I doubt that there would be too many cardiologists / surgeons keen on offering that advice.

 
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Gordo60

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Apr 3, 2019
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I am a large man that has lifted heavy my entire life, could a larger aorta root be normal for me?
At 4.6 cm that’s generally considered beyond the outer limit even for very large men. From memory the upper bounds for large men particularly athletes / lifters range from 3.8 - 4.2 cm?
 
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vitdoc

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Apr 16, 2017
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Southern Ca.
The big discussion in medicine is the idea that decisions in medicine should be EVIDENCE BASED.
Unfortunately in many (most) situations there is little evidence so statements are made based on Gut instinct or what seems OK. So unless there is some article that followed weight lifters with enlarged aortic roots that said that the weight lifting had something to do with enlargement then the statement you were given was PLUCKED FROM AIR.
I am a physician with three open hearts from bicuspid Aortic valve and subsequent aortic aneurysm (6.5 cm) with the last surgery in 2006.
Weight lifting probably is not the greatest activity for general health given the forces on the back , legs etc.. When you lift you increase your intra chest pressure (VALSALVA). This increases the pressure the venous return has to overcome to get blood back to the heart. Hence the bulging veins and reddening of the face. What that does to the aortic root is unclear. At the same time perhaps the blood pressure goes ski high. Perhaps the blood pressure issues might have some affect on the aorta. But probably unless there is some study, the cardiologist is just being conservative and careful but not scientific. If something does happen to you the cardiologist can say he did not have anything to do with it given his restrictions but they may not be necessary. Ask the next time you see him where these recommendations come from. Probably for your general health an exercise regimen that was more cardiovascular would be better for you.
 

AZ Don

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Apr 23, 2013
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Phoenix, AZ
Welcome to the forum,
See towards the end of this paper http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1140497
the section titled: The Date and Time that Aortic Dissection Occurs is Not Random
From a follow-up study done with patients and surviving family members of people that suffered an aortic dissection or rupture: "Specifically, we found that a majority of patients could recall a specific episode of severe emotional upset" ... " or extreme exertion at the time of their dissection." (in fact the accompanying chart shows 27% of dissections were preceded by physical exertion).

I think the restrictions on lifting a specific weight are ridiculous, as weights that I could not even lift would be easy for you. It's all about the stress and accompanying increase in blood pressure that creates additional risk for someone with an aortic aneurysm. My Dr's have been ok with my lifting a weight that I can lift 20 times - but that is after having my aortic aneurysm repaired. Years ago there was a good series of articles by Kevin Helliker in the WSJ about living with an aortic aneurysm - he was a runner and basically adapted to racing without competing. Here is a follow-up article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204047504574384973660445730

I think the outlook for lifting is better post surgery. Kevin Green returned to pro basketball following such surgery.
https://www.nba.com/magic/news/jeff-green/five-years-open-heart-surgery-thankful-20170109

I did a post 5 or 6 years ago on exercising after aortic aneurysm surgery. As I recall there was no clear guidance or evidence for limitations following surgery, though most Dr's will still advise some. The way one of my Dr's put it is that having an aortic aneurysm indicates that my aorta is weaker than normal, and so we have to assume that the rest of my aorta may be as well. Though I think the evidence shows that for those with BAV, the weakness is limited to the root and ascending aorta.
 

Joe Rodgers

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May 16, 2019
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Thank you all, I will read these articles and I have asked for a referral to a specialist. I am glad that I stumbled across this site.
 

hevishot

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Jan 5, 2017
Messages
10
Location
USA
Hi Joe,
I had my aortic valve replaced with a CE bovine valve in 05. I compete in the USAPL bench press competitions only. I don't squat or dead lift. I recently set a state record in the bench press M3 74 k class. Not giving any advice here. I was advised over and over again and again not to lift heavy. I didn't take it. I'm still here. I understand the risks. This was the right thing for ME. Nobody else. What organization do you lift with?
 

Joe Rodgers

New member
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
3
Hello,
Thank you for the response, I agree everyone has to make the right choice for them. It is tough for me because I live to lift heavy (especially squats), however, that may not be the right choice. I have drastically reduced the weight I lift in the gym while determine which direction I want to go. Currently, I lift in USPA. Congratulations on the State record! Stay Strong!
 

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