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any riders have Open Heart Surgery? How long

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  • any riders have Open Heart Surgery? How long

    I was born w/ congenital heart defect and had my second open heart surgery going on 4 weeks on Tuesday. I have asked many when I can ride again..just maybe light riding, trails ect. Noone will give me a straight answer.

    I am looking for any info of someone that has gone through it.

    When did they start riding, etc. Thanks!!

  • #2
    I am not a physician but I am a RN and worked for 15 years in Cardiac Surgery and ran a postop clinic. What type of incision did you have?
    Median sternotomy's need at least 6 weeks to heal and I would probably recommend another 2 weeks for good measure. I am sure you have a lifting restriction, right?
    The other approaches may need less time but I would certainly take my time before riding until all of those muscles and tissue have time to heal.
    Good luck!


    • Original Poster

      I had my arota replaced and a bypass. no driving for 4 weeks, 5 lb weight limit for 6-10 weeks. Started Cardio rehab last week.
      The second time my sternum had been clamped back together!

      SOmeone told me 6 months and I freaked!! I cannot wait that long!


      • Original Poster

        anyone else?


        • #5
          My husband had his aortic valve replaced. He tried to ride after 6 weeks, but it was still sore, he said 8 to 10 weeks. You would be amazed at how often the things you do pull on that area. And you do not want to fall before the sternum is healed.


          • #6
            Had bypass surgery, could ride after 6 weeks, fell off at 6 months and said to hell with it.


            • #7
              OK, RN with a hubby who had valve replacement a year ago--sternum needs to heal up, not just because you might fall on it, but because you have to mount, dismount, and otherwise lift quite a bit (i.e your bodyweight) with your arms and upperbody for those tasks. So when lifting restrictions are off AND somebody can poke you in the breastbone without you flinching, you should be good to go. I would consider buying or borrowing a body protector just to give you an extra feeling of security.

              When I fall I nearly always land on my butt. However, the worst fall I've ever had I landed smack on my right ribcage, and just recently managed to have a boob speared with a big old ugly tree branch when another big old ugly tree branch knocked me off my horse. Either fall couldve hurt a compromised breastbone. And a body protector, which I dont own one of, wouldve prevented either injury.

              Mr Jeano ignored weight lifting restrictions everytime my back was turned and did fine, but he is a big guy with a huge chest.

              Depending on your age and hormonal status, it might be a good time to get your bone density checked if you havent already done so.

              I doubt if it will take as long as six months for you to be fully recovered. Three months maybe. In fact, there are people who have gone skydiving not long after open heart surgery, but they had special harnessess and chest protectors to make that possible, and were athletes in good shape otherwise.


              • Original Poster

                Today is 6 weeks & I feel like I am doing way more then I thought I would be! I can't get over how fast a body can heal itself!
                I go to the Dx on the 1st & I am going to ask to get an xray of my strenum to see how it look. It is still sore to touch, but I am active & feel good! Now I want to ride! I am going to see if walking is okay.

                I have to finally admit that horse people are stuborn and slightly crazy! LOL


                • #9
                  I am glad you started this topic, as I had been wondering too! I had OHS and AVR (mechanical valve) mid January, regular sternotomy. I have read on www.valvereplacement.org that folks who have had minimally invasive via thoracotomy method surgeries are ready to be way more active, sooner. I had a complication in that I had to go back to hospital within 3 weeks of surgery for cardioversion (Afib).

                  The Doctors said I actually could ride at the 3 month point, but I decided I would rather wait until I could sneeze without pain (it had still been a somewhat ouchy thing to do at 3 months) and until I was almost done with the cardiac rehab exercise program so I would have a good 'feel' for what my target HR and aerobic capacity is. I am chronologically 58, but this new valve has me feeling more like a 20-something; I love it!
                  All I need to do now is replace my old helmet, and tell a few friends I am ready to ride, and I will be back in the saddle! (am currently horseless) I have been figuratively 'chomping at the bit' but decided this is a situation in which it is better to give sternum longer to heal than risk it coming unwired. My biggest worry now is not riding, but making sure that no horse will head-butt me in the middle of the chest. That is good advice on a body protector jeano, I may look into that (either that or strap my little heart shaped pillow in the right spot, held on with backwards (connector part in front) suspenders, LOL!
                  RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                  • #10
                    I am an RN and have had 3 open heart surgeries, two to repair the large hole in my heart and one to replace the Tricuspid valve. I would strongly suggest you allow yourself to completely heal and do the best thing you can do, ASK YOUR PHYSICIAN when it is safe to return to the saddle. I am assuming you have your sternum wired together, so you do want to give it time to be completely healed so when/if you fall, your sternum does not shift out of place. Mine had shifted this last operation because I simply felt too good to go slow and be careful. When it popped back into place, not only was it audible, but it hurt! Just be careful because if you damage your sutures, it could be fatal if you tear the wrong ones. Let yourself HEAL, start some light cardio walking and get back into your routine slowly.


                    • #11
                      First, congrats on a successful surgery! Glad your healing up well.

                      I had 2 back-to back open heart surgeries 2 years ago and it was a full 5 months before I was back in the saddle. Even then, i couldn't ride for long as each trot step caused a dull ache in my sternum. I had 2 very complicated and intensive surgeries though and it was 3.5 months before I felt almost fully healed. So, don't rush it and definitely check with your doctor. A fall from a horse could seriously set-back your recovery.

                      Also want to second (or third?) the use of a body protector. I wear one every ride now on recommendation from my surgeon.


                      • #12
                        Open heart surgery

                        Thanks for all these reassuring notes and advice. I'm facing an aortic valve replacement in about a month and one of my biggest concerns is returning to riding afterwards.


                        • #13
                          Coumadin or other anti clotting meds adds another risk to the situation. If you are on Coumadin, talk with your doctor about the risks. You may want to consider checking your PT clotting at home before you ride. If your PT is is extremely elevated, the risk of bleeding from even a minor fall is high. The PT can go up and down erratically on Coumadin/warfarin.


                          • #14
                            I wasn't around for it, but I think my trainer had open heart surgery, now has a couple stents and a pacemaker. He's still riding and breaking youngsters.
                            Visit my Spoonflower shop


                            • #15
                              Facing AVR.

                              The posts above are encouraging. I find the prospect of not riding simply unthinkable. I will have a sternotomy for a bicuspid aortic valve in about 31/2 weeks. I'm not thrilled about waking up feeling I was run over by a truck, then facing months of rehab, but the symptoms are having a profound effect on my life, so I know I'm ready. I have a very understanding trainer and a very kind horse with a good mind. My surgeon said he should have me mounted in 3 months, and I'll certainly go to cardiac rehab class and get a little fitter first. I'll probably wear my protective vest when I get back on and have been thinking of investing in an airvest, although after paying for full training for several months I may have to ask for it for Christmas. I appreciate all the advice and encouragement.


                              • #16
                                Had an aortic valve replacement in December 2011. Was told I could start riding 3/1/12. Got back on 3/4/12. Other than being worried about the graft (had one bypass) coming loose at the sitting trot (ok, I know that's a foolish worry) it was many times better than before the surgery. Cardiac rehab is really beneficial, and not that stressful. Glad I went.
                                " ...the mist parted, and there was a green land under a swift sunrise." J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King