Still struggling cardio wise running, etc. 2.8 years after Aortic Valve replacement

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craigw

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I just turned 48 years OLD. 2 years and 8 months ago I had aortic valve replacement open heart surgery. I had my aortic valve replied with a pig tissue valve. I've never been able to get back to the level of fitness I used to be able to get to with my supposed severe aortic valve insufficiency. For instance when I'd get in real good shape and lean and mean I could run about 8 minute miles for 5 miles. Now I run like 10 min miles and as the run goes on I get slower. I start at 10 min miles maybe and toward the end it's like 11;30, etc. and I'm pretty consistent I just seem to labor the longer the continuous cardio exercise goes on. The other day I ran 4.3 miles in the 85 degree weather and when I finished after stretching my legs felt sore or crampy it was weird and I was dizzy. Some days I take off running and have to stop after a mile or less cause I'm just not feeling it. Also if I take off like a week and a half it's like starting all over again.

I also lift weights and do some HIIT training and swimming workouts. I feel it on longer swims too but in swimming I mostly do shorter sprint like HIIT workouts like I did when I was a former college swimmer. I realize I'm lucky to be alive and able to do anything active but was wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like it. My Doctor thinks I'm doing great all my tests came out great. I look in great shape but when I tell him of my running woes he's basically like well you have a smaller valve now and you're lucky, etc. I'm only seeing Doctor now once a year for annual echo.

Anyone else experienced this???
Yes. I have. It’s tough. Acceptance of some normal aging decline and the fact that, let’s face it; I’m a heart patient. Never wanted to be. Fitness was my passion. Somewhere below, someone mentions attitude and outlook as more important to work on maintaining than my arbitrary fitness goals and / or physique. That really spoke to me. I hope I can ease myself into remembering that, while still striving, exercising to my “new” level of capacity; but easing my angst over it all with a bit more acceptance.
 

craigw

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Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Yes. I have. It’s tough. Acceptance of some normal aging decline and the fact that, let’s face it; I’m a heart patient. Never wanted to be. Fitness was my passion. Somewhere below, someone mentions attitude and outlook as more important to work on maintaining than my arbitrary fitness goals and / or physique. That really spoke to me. I hope I can ease myself into remembering that, while still striving, exercising to my “new” level of capacity; but easing my angst over it all with a bit more acceptance.
I’m 57. Aortic tissue valve via open H two years ago. Sterna non-union; two subsequent sterna repairs w plates and screws. Very lean; Pre-surgery lots of HIT, heavy weights, and sprints. Mostly yoga and walking now with very disciplined diet to help offset inability to exercise as I did pre-surgery. Best to you. I understand.
 
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This makes me feel curious about what to expect out of my now 13 year old son - aortic replacement - mechanical - 2 1/2 years ago. He struggles with running but I figured it was because he is not conditioned. His cardiologist told me he has no restrictions as far as running goes. I wonder though if maybe he should be in some sort of cardio PT?
 

Protimenow

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This makes me feel curious about what to expect out of my now 13 year old son - aortic replacement - mechanical - 2 1/2 years ago. He struggles with running but I figured it was because he is not conditioned. His cardiologist told me he has no restrictions as far as running goes. I wonder though if maybe he should be in some sort of cardio PT?
For a 13 year old, with a mechanical valve, I wouldn't expect him to have trouble getting up to speed. He probably doesn't need cardio PT - unless you need that to push him to work harder than he did before the AVR.
He probably won't need any exclusion from usual PE at school - with the exception that his instructors MUST be aware the he takes warfarin, so to avoid high impact activities.

FWIW - this will probably (if not assuredly) keep him out of the military - or put him at a safe desk somewhere, if our future comes to that.

His cardiologist and surgeon probably know what's best for him. (But DO get him into the habit of testing his INR weekly - perhaps more often if his diet is inconsistent and because he's growing - but, again, his physicians SHOULD know what to do (but many often haven't got a clue)).
 

jlgreiner3

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In the same boat.
I'll be 3 years this month from my Aortic Valve Replacement with an On-X Valve. I'm 34 and still not back to where I was pre-surgery for Cardio.
 

SumoRunner

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I ran between 1000-1500 miles a year prior to valve replacement and about 150 races between 1978 & 91 when I had the surgery. I never made it over 1200 miles per year after AVR, but finished another 350 races after 91. I never did get back to previous fitness levels but I was 43 and that's about the time things begin to slide anyway.

I did 40 years of running (500+ races), 25 years of shot put, a few sprint triathlons, & swim races. Arthritis in the spine put a stop to running at age 67, but I continued walking 3-4 miles a day in addition to swim and bike. I quit the shot put when the back trouble started.

This year, age 71, I was training for a sprint triathlon in August, but tendonitis in the ankle put a stop to that. I'll try again next year.
 

tom in MO

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This makes me feel curious about what to expect out of my now 13 year old son - aortic replacement - mechanical - 2 1/2 years ago. He struggles with running but I figured it was because he is not conditioned. His cardiologist told me he has no restrictions as far as running goes. I wonder though if maybe he should be in some sort of cardio PT?
Maybe he just doesn't like running. I struggled with running, but that's because I hated it, especially at age 13. I think running and working out is an unusual type of insanity designed for people who are addicted to brain endorphins :) I do like to swim and bike and walk. Ever look at the face of a runner, all but of few look like they are not enjoying the experience. At 13, my exercise was biking (it was a good bike to the store, a friend's house, the mall, etc.), wandering the woods, walking the dog, pick up football, soccer, and baseball games.
 

Protimenow

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Like Tom, I didn't like running much either. With my current knee issues, I don't run - but I DO walk quickly, when given the chance (and when my knees don't seem to mind). I used to do a lot of bicycling (to school and home, when I was a kid), but not a lot of exercise. Racing through stores is most of my exercise.

At 13, I had problems with overexertion - I had a BAV but didn't know it, but had a problem that I thought EVERYBODY had - too much exertion and I'd feel like cold water was dripping down my legs (it wasn't), and sometimes I'd be more out of breath than the other kids, and very rarely, my head got floaty. Everyone had that, right?

I wonder how different my life would have been if I had a mechanical valve when I was 13. (They may not have had them then).

Trinity - your son should be fine. His coaches and friends will probably push him, just because they are more active and he would like to keep up. I'm not sure that special treatment (physical therapy) is the best way to go.

His battle scar will signal to adults that he's had heart surgery - his friends may think it's cool, idiots in his class may try to tease him, but your son will do okay. He should do all that he CAN do.

A 13 year old shouldn't coddle himself (and not do as much as he comfortably can), but should be careful not to push too much. (And, being on warfarin, he should be wary of activities that may cause a lot of bruising or bleeding - skydiving into a field of cactus, for example). Others on this forum have led extremely active lives even while on warfarin.
 
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Maybe he just doesn't like running. I struggled with running, but that's because I hated it, especially at age 13. I think running and working out is an unusual type of insanity designed for people who are addicted to brain endorphins :) I do like to swim and bike and walk. Ever look at the face of a runner, all but of few look like they are not enjoying the experience. At 13, my exercise was biking (it was a good bike to the store, a friend's house, the mall, etc.), wandering the woods, walking the dog, pick up football, soccer, and baseball games.
He’s just a little chunky right now (I am sure a growth spurt and puberty are about to hit and will help) and want to find a good activity for him. Walking and swimming may be the best bet. The crashing in a bike scenario in coumadin makes me steer away from that. His cardiologist is not a fan of falling. ;). Thank you for that thought, he probably doesn’t like it because it is hard at first and even if he got good at it, it still may not be his thing. The school PE class grades the kids in their time improvement when running a mile. Just one, but he hates it.
 
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Like Tom, I didn't like running much either. With my current knee issues, I don't run - but I DO walk quickly, when given the chance (and when my knees don't seem to mind). I used to do a lot of bicycling (to school and home, when I was a kid), but not a lot of exercise. Racing through stores is most of my exercise.

At 13, I had problems with overexertion - I had a BAV but didn't know it, but had a problem that I thought EVERYBODY had - too much exertion and I'd feel like cold water was dripping down my legs (it wasn't), and sometimes I'd be more out of breath than the other kids, and very rarely, my head got floaty. Everyone had that, right?

I wonder how different my life would have been if I had a mechanical valve when I was 13. (They may not have had them then).

Trinity - your son should be fine. His coaches and friends will probably push him, just because they are more active and he would like to keep up. I'm not sure that special treatment (physical therapy) is the best way to go.

His battle scar will signal to adults that he's had heart surgery - his friends may think it's cool, idiots in his class may try to tease him, but your son will do okay. He should do all that he CAN do.

A 13 year old shouldn't coddle himself (and not do as much as he comfortably can), but should be careful not to push too much. (And, being on warfarin, he should be wary of activities that may cause a lot of bruising or bleeding - skydiving into a field of cactus, for example). Others on this forum have led extremely active lives even while on warfarin.
Really good thoughts. Thank you. Maybe the focus on “do what you CAN do” and do it consistently. Just keep it up. Be proud of just getting out there for a run or a walk or whatever feels right on that day. Push yourself a little bit each day.
He thinks his battle scar is cool (it’s his second and this one is not healing as well - keloid) and refers to it as his bionic heart valve.
Thank you so much. :)
 

eftdan

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Feb 7, 2014
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I'm quite impressed with your fitness level to be honest, my advice would be to take it a little bit slower, I don't think that it can blow up, but there's always an wear and tear factor, that's why they usually last a lot longer in older patients.
I'm 50 now and I had my AVR done 5 years ago, Edwards COMMENCE trial. Bioprosthetic was a difficult choice, but all my doctors recommended me directly or indirectly to pick a tissue valve rather than a mechanical one.. One of my other choices was an ON-X valve. Sometimes I regret I didn't make this choice..
I was always a gym rat, I still am, but I never got back to the 'pre-surgery level... Running was not my thing, I was more into weight lifting or HIIT when I wanted to lose some weight, but before surgery I was able to run the mile in 9 mins which is the test for being fit, I think.. I tried it after surgery as well but was not able to do it, I even felt some pain... Sometimes when I sprint, I feel a little pain as well. I'm kind of scared cause that's how I started to notice there was something wrong with my original valve. All my ultrasounds or stress tests were fine.
 

Agian

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Trinity, when I was a kid we used to call it 'playing'. Childhood was much simpler then. We used to throw rocks at each other and the teachers couldn't care less. When we had truck loads of old tires dumped in the school quadrangle, we were in heaven. The world was exciting. Kids today are like mini adults.

Question: what do you want for your Birthday?
Answer: a pwinter.
 

DRG.

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Ontario, Canada
What I have noticed reading this forum off and on since my surgery in April 2015 is that there are really no "typical" experiences ....everyone is different.

I could never run distance even as a teen. If the PhyEd instructor sent us out on cross country run at the start of class ( as he was fond of doing in good weather ) I was always one of the last to finish and I always "assumed" that was just me and it wasn't until I was in my 50s that I found out I was born with a bi-cuspid aortic valve which at the time was free of stenosis but that had changed by the time I reached my early 60's and the one I was born with was replaced by a Medtronic Open Pivot.

At the time of surgery, I was 230 pounds. A month after release from hospital I had a mild stroke but in June 2015 I started walking 4k most every day and the first time I did that it took me 50 minutes. At the same time I changed my diet completely and set out to lose weight and by mid-October 2015 I was 180 pounds (.....and much happier for it). During that time I started running a bit during each walk.......maybe 400-500 meters and maybe 100 meters at a time which is no great accomplishment but for a non-runner like me it was. I continued the walk/run routine until August of 2018 when I stopped walking and started running cross-country exclusively. I usually run 3-4 kilometre per day but I have run as high as 8 km which to "real" runners is nothing but to someone like me who could never run distance it is. I am maintaining a weight of 175 pounds and at 66 I am in the best physical shape of my life.

So some may find they cannot do what they once did but in totally opposite ways which leads back to what I wrote in the first line there are really no "typical" experiences ....everyone is different.
 
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Trinity, when I was a kid we used to call it 'playing'. Childhood was much simpler then. We used to throw rocks at each other and the teachers couldn't care less. When we had truck loads of old tires dumped in the school quadrangle, we were in heaven. The world was exciting. Kids today are like mini adults.

Question: what do you want for your Birthday?
Answer: a pwinter.
So true! “Playing” now is in front of an Xbox console. If we were bored we’d figure it out. So much has changed. The school year has started and I’m excited for the additional structure and no electronics during the school week. “go outside and play!!”
 

Protimenow

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Yes. To the kids next to them. And THEN they can go back to the computer games they were playing in the classroom.
 

haggis basher

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I am Scottish, but living in Sydney Australia
I just turned 48 years OLD. 2 years and 8 months ago I had aortic valve replacement open heart surgery. I had my aortic valve replied with a pig tissue valve. I've never been able to get back to the level of fitness I used to be able to get to with my supposed severe aortic valve insufficiency. For instance when I'd get in real good shape and lean and mean I could run about 8 minute miles for 5 miles. Now I run like 10 min miles and as the run goes on I get slower. I start at 10 min miles maybe and toward the end it's like 11;30, etc. and I'm pretty consistent I just seem to labor the longer the continuous cardio exercise goes on. The other day I ran 4.3 miles in the 85 degree weather and when I finished after stretching my legs felt sore or crampy it was weird and I was dizzy. Some days I take off running and have to stop after a mile or less cause I'm just not feeling it. Also if I take off like a week and a half it's like starting all over again.

I also lift weights and do some HIIT training and swimming workouts. I feel it on longer swims too but in swimming I mostly do shorter sprint like HIIT workouts like I did when I was a former college swimmer. I realize I'm lucky to be alive and able to do anything active but was wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like it. My Doctor thinks I'm doing great all my tests came out great. I look in great shape but when I tell him of my running woes he's basically like well you have a smaller valve now and you're lucky, etc. I'm only seeing Doctor now once a year for annual echo.

Anyone else experienced this???
Hi Midlife crisis. I had a new pig tissue valve in 2011 (71 age) I was a top Australian Masters distance runner. I still did 66min for 10km at 77age! (2017) I found I was minutes slower per 1km than before my operation. I was told it is because I'm on 'statins' for high cholesterol ! They give muscle weakness. finish Melbourne,Australia 10km 2017. At present - got blood clots in lungs! Will recover.
 

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