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  1. #1
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    Aortic Valve Replacement and resuming cycling

    Hi All,

    Had my aortic valve replaced on December 4th, and was just cleared this week to resume driving.

    I have been walking around the block and getting back into small household chores. I was told 30 plus years ago that if I lived long enough I would need to have the valve replaced. The first valve was found to be leaking so they wheeled me back in for try number two. Luckily I was still under anesthesia and knew nothing of the problem.

    I start cardiac rehab on Feb 5th.. three times per week. The surgeon told me I would get more
    out of walking and riding my bike, but I want some adult medical supervision at first to make sure everything is working. I have not been on the bike since last May, so I am looking forward to getting back on it.

    I will be 68 in early April, and figure I can ride my age in furlongs by then!

    Anyone else out there have AVR? By the way, I now have a 21mm Carpentier-Edwards bioprosthetic aortic valve (pig valve). I feel at least ten years younger and hope that translates to more fun on the bike.

    Thanks, and I will post up when I actually get to ride again.

    Pete

  2. #2
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Congratulations on getting things fixed up -- feeling "at least 10 years younger" is certainly a good sign.. No, let me correct that: it is a GREAT sign!

    I can't say that I know much about valve replacements -- but as for PT / cardiac rehab:

    I have always been of the opinion that physical therapy can get things started and lead the way -- but it is up to you to do the work.

    I have seen people go into therapy with a passive attitude and simply do what they're told -- nothing more, nothing less.
    ... Generally they come out of it with mediocre results -- at best.

    I would advocate letting the rehab therapist lead you and get you started but do as much as you can on your own. Unless the therapist or physician tell you otherwise, I see no reason why you should restrict your therapy and rehab to only the three days a week you are at the rehab center. In fact, most everything they do there you can do on your own (or maybe at a gym).

    Often therapy and rehabs are restricted not because of the patient's limitations but on what the insurance is willing to pay for.

    So, with the knowledge, consent and support of your physician and therapist, I say GO FOR IT -- EVERY DAY!
    ... Just don't overdue it and don't overstress your body and your cardiovascular system.
    ....... Perhaps a walk around the block (or ride) is all you can safely do. But if you can do it safely; DO IT!
    --------------------------------------
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  3. #3
    astro
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    I cycling friend of mine had this in 2012. In 2013, he did the 500 mile FANY ride. I predict many long rides in your future!

    - Ed

  4. #4
    Senior Member rideorglide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dawes56 View Post
    Hi All,

    Had my aortic valve replaced on December 4th, and was just cleared this week to resume driving.

    I have been walking around the block and getting back into small household chores. I was told 30 plus years ago that if I lived long enough I would need to have the valve replaced. The first valve was found to be leaking so they wheeled me back in for try number two. Luckily I was still under anesthesia and knew nothing of the problem.

    I start cardiac rehab on Feb 5th.. three times per week. The surgeon told me I would get more
    out of walking and riding my bike, but I want some adult medical supervision at first to make sure everything is working. I have not been on the bike since last May, so I am looking forward to getting back on it.

    I will be 68 in early April, and figure I can ride my age in furlongs by then!

    Anyone else out there have AVR? By the way, I now have a 21mm Carpentier-Edwards bioprosthetic aortic valve (pig valve). I feel at least ten years younger and hope that translates to more fun on the bike.

    Thanks, and I will post up when I actually get to ride again.

    Pete
    You friggin' rock.
    Otherwise good luck with your rehab and avoid the hills.
    http://theoutsideinsideout.blogspot.com/

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    Dawes,
    This is fantastic news, I am glad the surgery and the correction went well and it sounds as if you are recovering nicely. You seem to have a good grip on the rehabilitation and getting back into things. Please keep us posted on your progress.No pics of the AV+1and AV+2 please, I imagine they would be pretty gruesome to most of us.

    Bill
    No pics, but I do have the surgical report...no wonder I hurt so much when I first got home! Thanks for the
    encouragement, and I won't overdo it but I will be back on the bike soon. Just another of life's little challenges.

    Pete

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Problem with Heart surgery is normally in the mind. How hard can I push- will I do any damage etc. Recovery should be steady and enough. Do not push TOO hard TOO soon. You probably won't be able to for a while recovering from the surgery but listen to your body but keep working it.

    I had a Bypass in 99 and I can remember those first bits of exercise I did. 300 yards to the local shop and I was finished. Week later and it was a 1 mile walk into the town for a coffee and a 1 mile walk back-albeit very slowly. Month later and it was done at 4mph- a good walking pace for me. 3 months after surgery and I did a hilly 40 mile ride that if I knew how hard it was going to be- I would have trained for.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  7. #7
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
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    I'm needing to have my aortic valve replaced as well. Right now it's at a point where they're not telling me it must be done immediately but it's bad enough that they'll schedule the surgery whenever I decide I'm ready. At the moment I'm thinking of trying to make it through the summer and have it done next fall. If I'm going to be off the bike for a few months I'd rather it be over the winter months.

    I too have questions about recovery time so I'll be watching this thread closely. Because my condition is congenital and the rest of my heart is in great shape I'm less concerned about my heart recovering versus my ribs healing after my chest is cracked open. I can imagine standing sprints probably wouldn't be a good idea too soon after the surgery.
    '81 Panasonic Sport, '02 Giant Boulder SE, '08 Felt S32, '10 Diamondback Insight RS, '10 Windsor Clockwork

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  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the advice. I won't try to do anything too fast.

    Tundra_Man,
    I was in the same situation getting somewhat vague guidance as to when to have the surgery. I think the hardest part was scheduling it in spite of having no symptoms (other than being tired all the time).

    I will keep updating this thread with recovery milestones.. by the time the weather warms up I expect to be
    back on the bike.

    Take care and be safe!

    Pete

  9. #9
    astro
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    Quote Originally Posted by groth View Post
    I cycling friend of mine had this in 2012. In 2013, he did the 500 mile FANY ride. I predict many long rides in your future!

    - Ed
    OOPS - surgery in 2011, ride in 2012. I must have slipped a cog! - Ed

  10. #10
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
    I'm needing to have my aortic valve replaced as well. Right now it's at a point where they're not telling me it must be done immediately but it's bad enough that they'll schedule the surgery whenever I decide I'm ready. At the moment I'm thinking of trying to make it through the summer and have it done next fall. If I'm going to be off the bike for a few months I'd rather it be over the winter months.

    I too have questions about recovery time so I'll be watching this thread closely. Because my condition is congenital and the rest of my heart is in great shape I'm less concerned about my heart recovering versus my ribs healing after my chest is cracked open. I can imagine standing sprints probably wouldn't be a good idea too soon after the surgery.
    By 'congenital', I assume you mean that you have had it since birth -- so you've lived with it for at least 50 years if you're on this forum.

    Is it getting worse? Is it stopping you from doing something that is important to you? Does it pose a danger?

    It's not my place to question either you or your physicians. But sometimes physicians (especially surgeons) just like to fix things. Sort of like taking your WallyWorld bike into the LBS and telling them that it doesn't shift well. They will be happy to install a new and improved set of components on it for you...
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  11. #11
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    By 'congenital', I assume you mean that you have had it since birth -- so you've lived with it for at least 50 years if you're on this forum.

    Is it getting worse? Is it stopping you from doing something that is important to you? Does it pose a danger?
    It is getting worse. We actually found it last spring because I was starting to have chest pain and some irregular heartbeats. I'm noticing I'm getting more winded than I used to for the same activity level. A few weeks ago on a ride with a friend we were only going about 11 mph and I sounded like I was doing wind sprints. Earlier this fall I pretty much abandoned running due to the problem, which is discouraging because I actually enjoy running more than biking.

    My cardiologist said that it's not uncommon for this problem (aortic stenosis) to go undiagnosed until later in life. The malformed heart valve can keep up for a while, but then starts to wear out and that's when the symptoms appear.

    And confession time: I'm actually only 43. However I saw the thread title show up in the cross-forum "New Posts" search results, and because I had the exact same questions about the same procedure, I joined in the discussion even though I'm a bit under the age limit. Hopefully I won't get kicked out because of this.
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  12. #12
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I'm guessing you have a bicuspid aortic valve. That is a pretty common congenital anomoly. If so, you're in good company. That's what the Governator had repaired. He seems to be doing well with it.

    I got a leaky mitral valve. I'll trade you valves if you'd like. Mitral valve replacement isn't quite so easy.

    Anyway, good luck and best wishes.

  13. #13
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
    It is getting worse. We actually found it last spring because I was starting to have chest pain and some irregular heartbeats. I'm noticing I'm getting more winded than I used to for the same activity level. A few weeks ago on a ride with a friend we were only going about 11 mph and I sounded like I was doing wind sprints. Earlier this fall I pretty much abandoned running due to the problem, which is discouraging because I actually enjoy running more than biking.

    My cardiologist said that it's not uncommon for this problem (aortic stenosis) to go undiagnosed until later in life. The malformed heart valve can keep up for a while, but then starts to wear out and that's when the symptoms appear.

    And confession time: I'm actually only 43. However I saw the thread title show up in the cross-forum "New Posts" search results, and because I had the exact same questions about the same procedure, I joined in the discussion even though I'm a bit under the age limit. Hopefully I won't get kicked out because of this.
    Thanks for sharing that. I learned something.
    --------------------------------------
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  14. #14
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    My uncle had the same surgery & has been riding for a year now. He had to build up slow & doesn't take off too fast. Good luck.
    If you want a lighter bike ? Eat more salads !!!!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
    It is getting worse. We actually found it last spring because I was starting to have chest pain and some irregular heartbeats. I'm noticing I'm getting more winded than I used to for the same activity level. A few weeks ago on a ride with a friend we were only going about 11 mph and I sounded like I was doing wind sprints. Earlier this fall I pretty much abandoned running due to the problem, which is discouraging because I actually enjoy running more than biking.

    My cardiologist said that it's not uncommon for this problem (aortic stenosis) to go undiagnosed until later in life. The malformed heart valve can keep up for a while, but then starts to wear out and that's when the symptoms appear.

    And confession time: I'm actually only 43. However I saw the thread title show up in the cross-forum "New Posts" search results, and because I had the exact same questions about the same procedure, I joined in the discussion even though I'm a bit under the age limit. Hopefully I won't get kicked out because of this.
    If I were you I would not put it off much longer. The bad valve can cause atrial fibrilation which can lead to a stroke. If you are already short of breath.... well it is none of my business and I am no doctor lol.

    Just be sure the cardiologist is following you closely.

  16. #16
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    Just a quick update... have been going to cardiac rehab at the local hospital three times per week (8 sessions so far). The exercises are done while wearing a heart monitor and having blood pressure taken
    now and then. Exercises include stretching, three sessions on a treadmill (6 minutes each), arm bike (two sessions), stationary bike (one session), and free weights, albeit light ones. Speeds and levels of resistance are increased as appropriate.

    I am having no problems with the rehab.. in fact so far it feels easy.. but I don't want to rush anything.
    I did, however, ride the bike on Friday... just around the neighborhood.. so I can still balance and pedal lol. It has turned colder and windy again so I have not been out. Bear in mind that in line with the rehab sessions, I only rode for 10 minutes or so.. in a very low gear combination...

    Although I won't be riding my age on my upcoming 68th birthday in early April, I am planning to be riding regularly by then, and covering distances that can at least be called "rides." Heck, I could ride my age in furlongs right now! (8.5 miles).

    Still on this side of the grass,

    Pete

  17. #17
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Kudos and best wishes.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    Keep riding. Maybe you'll be riding your age by the end of Summer. I have no idea though if that is an unrealistic goal and post surgery patients need more time than that, but if you can reach that goal, great! The most important thing is you can ride now.
    Please support diabetics like myself, a red rider, by supporting the American Diabetes Association.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikey Mikey View Post
    Keep riding. Maybe you'll be riding your age by the end of Summer. I have no idea though if that is an unrealistic goal and post surgery patients need more time than that, but if you can reach that goal, great! The most important thing is you can ride now.
    +1
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  20. #20
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    You will be just fine. I had open heart surgery (cabg x4) nine weeks ago. Been doing one hour hard trainer rides five days per week since four weeks post-op. will hit the road this weekend for a 25-30 miler. Don't hold back if you feel good but listen to your doc regarding max hr. ride brother ride.

  21. #21
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmy906 View Post
    You will be just fine. I had open heart surgery (cabg x4) nine weeks ago. Been doing one hour hard trainer rides five days per week since four weeks post-op. will hit the road this weekend for a 25-30 miler. Don't hold back if you feel good but listen to your doc regarding max hr. ride brother ride.
    Glad to hear you are doing well -- and planning a nice ride...

    ... Good luck with the ride AND the weather... (The way things have been going this winter -- I'm not sure I will plan on much of anything till I see some flowers that aren't in a vase)
    --------------------------------------
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  22. #22
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    65 year-old from our group had AVR last summer and he's back riding as if nothing had happened, i.e. strongly.

  23. #23
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    Thanks for the continued encouragement. I had planned to ride today before the first real snow of the winter engulfs Maryland... my wife had other plans for me. Looks to be warm the rest of the week and weekend so any snow should be gone and the bike paths cleared by Saturday.

    The nurse at cardiac rehab told me I am doing enough METS (metabolic equivalent something or others) during the exercises at rehab that I can ride the bike for basically as long as I want based on how I feel.
    So I will be expanding my ride this weekend.

    I have been riding a hybrid since 2006 and generally used to ride only 50 to 70 miles in a week anyway, so I should be back to that soon. My 56 Dawes needs some TLC before I get back on that, but it is a nice project to begin thinking about.

    I guess it is time to end this thread.. I will post further rides if they are "significant" (in my mind at least) in the Did you ride Today thread.

    Spring will be here soon I hope.

    Pete

  24. #24
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    enjoy life while you can. all of our days are numbered.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  25. #25
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    I had a stent emplace on my Anterior Decending artery. I went through rehab and the whole 9 yards. I went back to work 2 1/2 weeks after the attack. I'm a mechanic by trade. 3 weeks after starting work I hammered a wheelbearing out of a GMC pickup. Pushed it too hard and ended up back in for 2 days. Upper body workouts will get to you the quickest. Cycling would be good for you.

    BUT DO NOT OVERDO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Listen to yourself. When you get tired and winded call it a day. Work back slowly and all will be well. Be careful out there. And welcome back.

    Mark Shuman

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