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  1. #1

    Default Dos and Don'ts for heart attack survivor on AT thru hike

    I survived the heart attack in Dec-2018. I plan to do flip flop from Harpes Ferry in 2021. Are there heart attack survivors who have attempted or completed AT thru-hike? What are the Dos and Don'ts? Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Not knowing anything about your age, current or past health, fitness level, experience or BP history and not knowing how many bypasses you had, either open heart or minimal invasive and even if you have stents and are on a continuing drug protocol -
    I can only say listen to your body. if you have damaged heart muscle, then heat and elevation will work against you. You will need to replenish with electrolytes. You may be more prone to palpitations and or AFIB which you should seriously discuss with your cardio -lightheartedness from either could cause you to fall and injure yourself. and worse yet if you are on a blood thinner could cause internal or external bleeding. Again - I'm giving you worst case, simply because I don't know anything about you ..
    I've never had a myocardial infarction, but I have had 4 heart surgeries + on my 4th replaced aortic valve in 21 years and have a bi-ventricular pacemaker. Now at 60, I have to pace myself and avoid really hot days and slow down on climbs - I can't do what I did 5 years agoi, but it doesn't mean I can't do anything. I stay out of the sun more (which isn't too much of a concern on the AT) and watch my fluid and sodium intake - in hot weather I need more of each.
    I was pretty active within 4 months of each open-heart surgery - but each time, recovery takes longer.
    I climbed Camelback (AZ) 2 months and
    Katahdin 6 months after my first OH Surgery, thereafter, I completed almost half the AT (along with being a scout leader, coaching lacrosse and raising kids).
    I wish you luck. Just pay attention to what's going on in your body.

    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

  3. #3

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    do- consult your physician and cardiologist

    don't - rely on information off the internet

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    do- consult your physician and cardiologist

    don't - rely on information off the internet
    Hard to top that advice.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    Not knowing anything about your age, current or past health, fitness level, experience or BP history and not knowing how many bypasses you had, either open heart or minimal invasive and even if you have stents and are on a continuing drug protocol -
    I can only say listen to your body. if you have damaged heart muscle, then heat and elevation will work against you. You will need to replenish with electrolytes. You may be more prone to palpitations and or AFIB which you should seriously discuss with your cardio -lightheartedness from either could cause you to fall and injure yourself. and worse yet if you are on a blood thinner could cause internal or external bleeding. Again - I'm giving you worst case, simply because I don't know anything about you ..
    I've never had a myocardial infarction, but I have had 4 heart surgeries + on my 4th replaced aortic valve in 21 years and have a bi-ventricular pacemaker. Now at 60, I have to pace myself and avoid really hot days and slow down on climbs - I can't do what I did 5 years agoi, but it doesn't mean I can't do anything. I stay out of the sun more (which isn't too much of a concern on the AT) and watch my fluid and sodium intake - in hot weather I need more of each.
    I was pretty active within 4 months of each open-heart surgery - but each time, recovery takes longer.
    I climbed Camelback (AZ) 2 months and
    Katahdin 6 months after my first OH Surgery, thereafter, I completed almost half the AT (along with being a scout leader, coaching lacrosse and raising kids).
    I wish you luck. Just pay attention to what's going on in your body.

    Can not thank you enough. Really appreciate. Will certainly keep a watch on sodium and fluids. Yes, I go slow on a climb as my pulse rate is restricted by beta blocker.

    I had STEMI heart attack and has some dead tissue on the heart. But zero blockage, only one stent and most heart functions are now within "normal" range. No other heart surgery. Cardiologist is thumbs up for my AT thru hike. Huge thanks again.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    do- consult your physician and cardiologist

    don't - rely on information off the internet
    Great advice. Totally agree.

  7. #7

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    For the most part, I agree on not relying on information off the internet. But, firsthand experience can be a good supplement to medical advice. After all, the chances of a particular cardiologist being a long-distance hiker is small.

    As a 60 year old, even with reasonably clear arteries (as of about three years ago), I'd agree with Toolshed that you need to be very cautious in hot weather.

  8. #8
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    I survived a heart attach in 2017 while hiking the AT in Shenandoah National Park. Luckily my daughter walked out to the Skyline Drive to get service to call 911. Paramedics backboarded me out to the ambulance and I too survived with minimal coronary damage .

    Do’s— you should already have a cardiologist, listen to him or her in regards to keeping a six month appointment to keep tabs on your LDL & HDL counts ,
    2) Get into a cardiac exercise regime that is appropriate for your situation.

    Don!t — believe that you are never going to be able to hike long hikes ever again, You will, believe me.

    2) don’t listen to anyone concerning your health except your cardiologist
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    I survived a heart attach in 2017 while hiking the AT in Shenandoah National Park. Luckily my daughter walked out to the Skyline Drive to get service to call 911. Paramedics backboarded me out to the ambulance and I too survived with minimal coronary damage .

    Do’s— you should already have a cardiologist, listen to him or her in regards to keeping a six month appointment to keep tabs on your LDL & HDL counts ,
    2) Get into a cardiac exercise regime that is appropriate for your situation.

    Don!t — believe that you are never going to be able to hike long hikes ever again, You will, believe me.

    2) don’t listen to anyone concerning your health except your cardiologist
    Thanks a lot.

  10. #10
    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    Not a whole lot more to be added.

    I have found that when a health issue is new, one doesn't know/can't think of all the specific questions to ask their doctor. Perhaps the hiking community can help with that aspect. Perhaps that perspective will allow the OP to take a step back and think of things they might advise another hiker to ask their doctor in this situation.

    Heat and humidity impact heart function - the heart has to work harder in these conditions. You might ask your cardiologist specifically about hiking in the heat & humidity. You might also need to be flexible with your hiking on these days - hiking in the cool of the morning, avoiding hiking in the hottest part of the day, hiking in the evening, taking a zero on the days with extreme humidity. These might be ideas to implement in your hiking plan. Listen to your body and what it needs. Or, you might find this doesn't apply to your situation.

    Medications - You might want to sit down with your cardiologist and go over your specific medications with regards to a long hike. Really taking a look at side effects is good to know what to watch for in case anything physically changes during your hike. Also good to plan on where you might able to pick up prescriptions during your hike, if mail drops are not in your plans.

    Fluids - Stay hydrated. It is very important to stay hydrated, but not overdo it. You will find that balancing act with your body.

    Some backpacking meals contain a lot of sodium. Be aware of ingredients in the foods you choose if they are different from what you eat in your everyday life. Ask your doctor about your specific dietary requirements & things to avoid.

    The main thing is to listen to what your body needs/is doing on any given day. It is easy to ignore symptoms because one has a goal in mind. Be willing to be flexible with your plans. Your goal is achievable. You just need to put a little more thought into personal care, than the average hiker. Set an easy schedule at first. Allow your body to adapt to the trail life - give it a little time and it will tell you if your hiking style needs to adjust. Day hikes, shorter backpacking trips...these will help you to figure out what your body needs from you.

    Best of luck with your trip planning! Getting out in nature can be the best way to physically and mentally heal.

  11. #11

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    Do: Listen to your doctor and do what they say.
    Don't: Ask for advice on the Internet.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

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