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Glenn R 10-06-05 11:05 AM

Recent setback - bypass surgery - some Qs
I am 45, have been road biking for 6 years, and am (was) in great shape. My average speed on my group's weekly rides was 18-20 mph here in hilly NC on a Trek 5200. I was also training for a TT this October. In July I was dusting everyone up a long hill when - BOOM - outta nowhere I had a major MI that required a coronary bypass that night. It was caused by the dissection of my LAD artery within a myocardial bridge (part of my LAD dipped into my heart muscle). I am on 25mg Toprol, 2.5mg Altace, and Aspirin. My recovery has been slow and difficult because I am a small guy, so they had to open me up a long way compared to most people they get.

A few questions for any other cyclists out there with bypasses. I realize I will never race now, and no TTs are in my future (and I had just bought a new set of Easton Tempest IIs too that are still in the box!), but what are my chances of being able to hang with my buds next year? What are your experiences with this? Are you still on medications (my normal BP was 110/65 and I have no artery disease, but I'm on these meds "to heal my heart" as the Cardio Doc put it)? I guess I'm just looking for a pep talk as I'm pretty bummed about this whole thing. Cycling, and cycling hard was a real passion of mine and my major stress relief in life.

I start cardio rehab next week. I'm not sure how that will go as these meds really sap my energy, but I'm hoping it will give me a better outlook on life. I also have an echo stress test coming up in November.

Oh yeah, word to the wise. If you're an older rider and thinking of stepping up your training (that's what I did), please see your doc first. If I had done that, they may have found that myocardial bridge that I didn't know about (and 25% of the population may have this). All my life I was always told I had a benign heart murmur, when in fact I had a time bomb in my chest.

garysol1 10-06-05 01:18 PM

Wish I could tell you something about your problem but I can't. I do have a question though. Why do you say you will never race? Is that a forgone conclusion?

SAB 10-06-05 01:55 PM

I don't see any reason to have the attitude that you'll never race or time trial again. Assuming your heart was in good shape prior to the procedure, and there were no unforseen complications during or after the surgery you should eventually be back to normal after some rehab! Talk to your doctor about eventually getting off some of the meds, especially if they are affecting your lifestyle. If you're not satisfied, don't be bashful about seeking a second opinion and/or finding a sports-medicine subspecialist who can very helpful about getting you back into tip-top shape.

Glenn R 10-06-05 02:19 PM

The reason I think I may never be able to race is because the original defect in my heart is still there. They didn't repair it, they just put a bypass around it. And while my dissesction is actually healing, it is unlikely it will ever heal all the way. So, I guess the answer is fear more than anything.

greenmtn 10-06-05 02:47 PM

Hi, First things first, You will ride again and enjoy it Why? BECAUSE YOU ARE ALIVE! you made it through what could have very well killed you. Lots of by-pass patients (big and small stature) are riding fast and competitive. Put your mind to it. Get positive as long as you are cleared you start slow and progress. Ask your Doc about alternatives to Beta blockers as you know they prevent rapid heartbeat. rehab now even with the toperil and once you start to feel even slightly better ask if it is possible to stop or switch, after all your mechanical problem is fixed, whatever damage is done to your heart is done. once you start to rehab you will feel stronger and stronger.If you aren't getting the answers you need, find a cardiologist who is sports minded. You stated taht cycling was a big part of your life IT still can be. I hate to overplay this but think of Lance, get a yellow livestrong braclet or other symbol to remind you of folks who had setbacks and fought to get back. You to can do it. Be patient and focused.
Let us know how you are doing. Good Luck!

SAB 10-06-05 07:27 PM

I agree with greenmtn. You need to have a frank discussion with your physician(s). I believe you are making assumptions about your condition and your bypass procedure they may not necessarily be completely valid. For now concentrate on your immediate healing and rehab. When you feel up to it, no reason why you can't race again! After you recover, there should be no physical reason why you can't be on your bike as you were before. Mentally, however, you may feel more physically vulnerable which may prevent you from giving it 100% during your workouts. This is where being well-informed will help you. Talk to your physician(s) and ask questions. Do your own research and reading. Good luck! Livestrong!

Danegeld 10-06-05 07:35 PM

i know guys who had hart transplants who jump out of planes.. never say never.. :)

Cyclaholic 10-06-05 08:55 PM

You've already beat the odds - you're still alive and on the road to physical recovery, the rest is all a matter of attitude. If you haven't read it I would strongly suggest Lance armstrong's "It's not about the bike" it's about a fellow cyclist's journey back from the almost-dead.

You're a cyclist, you have that competitiveness, you're going to tap into it and you're going to come back strong from this. It's tough right now but hang in there.

geebee 10-06-05 09:04 PM

I have had a quad bypass after a heart attack, I now ride 6~7 days a week including some very challenging MTB tracks, heart wise no drama's no matter how hard I push it.
My only issue is that my ribs are prone to sliding out of the sternum if I ride a road bike or mtb every day, feels like a broken rib when it happens, not a real common complication from what I hear but if it happens they can be wired in place.
In summer I will, as often as the family will let me, kayak paddle or surf in the morning and ride in the afternoon. So there is definatley the ability to push your self after the surgery BUT CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.
ps. I had the heart attack and quad bypass at age 39 and am now 43.

Glenn R 10-07-05 08:37 AM

Thanks, all, especially you, geebee. Everyone keeps telling me I can do it. It might be a slow process for me to get back the trust so to speak. I have an echo stress test scheduled next month. That should give a good indication of what lies ahead...I hope.

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