After heart failure: How is your life different?

Posted by davej @davej, Jul 21, 2020

Found out yesterday my heart aeortic valve is failing along with an aneurism my second opinion is at mayo on 8/7 but was told I need a sternumotoly and my life would change I would now have to take commudian every day to stay alive and being an avid sports adrenaline junkie I’m going to have to cut back no rollerblading, skydiving, scuba diving, hiking in the mountains where I might have to crawl up and over lifting my mountain bike 0n to my rack are just a few things doctor says no to so I’m asking for any advice on what you loved to do and now you cant the unsaid attitude is at least your alive to start some other hobbies at 59 finding a new job and less stressful hobbies I hope is easier than what I think it will be any and all responses will be greatly appreciated have a great day dave

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Hey @davej,
I am so sorry to here about your aneurysm and failing aortic valve. Changing your exercise routine and level of activity may be very challenging, but very possible to achieve with a good attitude and positive support. I would like to invite several people to the conversation to discuss alternative exercise options and hobbies after a diagnosed heart condition or surgery.
@openheart2020, @cobweb, @cass57, @degarden_girl, @ginko, @lynetteirizarry, @lizzy102, @thankful, @predictable and @ronbyrd can you share your experiences with @davej ?

I also am attaching "what to expect" from Mayo when you visit for your second opinion.
Dave, have you given thought to less stress induced activities such as golf, water aerobics or something that you find interesting?


Hi Dave, I think the sternumotoly might be to access your heart valve/aneurysm for repair. I suggest temporarily modifying your incredible sport and exercise regimen until after your Mayo consult and possible surgery. Yoga can be quite challenging and a great exercise although likely not as adrenaline pumping as some of the things you have been doing. Power walking, bike rail trail riding, hiking more gentle slopes without a bike on your back might be worth discussion with your Mayo cardio surgeon. I wish you well and a positive discussion with your Mayo consult MD.


@davej Hi Dave,

I read your post with a great deal of empathy. I deal with aortic insufficiency, diastolic dysfunction (a mild form of heart failure) and when this all was diagnosed my ability to exercise was really derailed! I was not as active as you have been, but I did walk a mile or so a day and I went to aerobic classes which I loved. I have now settled into more gentle forms of exercise. Tai-Chi is great as it practices gentle movements, mindfulness. It is great physically and mentally as well. A stationary exercise bike is also good.

Adjusting to a new lifestyle requires time. Allow yourself that time. Remember to grieve the physical abilities that you have lost and to move forward to a different lifestyle.

Will you post again and let me know when you have your surgery and how you are adjusting?


Dear davej: I know exactly how you're feeling right now. In 1996 (age 51) I was diagnosed w/ an aneurysm of the ascending aorta with a stretched aortic valve. I was living in Florida but decided to fly to Mayo-Roch. for treatment as I had grown up in S.E. MN. My surgeon gave me a choice: mechanical valve or pig valve — as it turned out, I was able to avoid both. He performed a "valve sparing" operation. (At the time, Mayo-Roch. was one of a handful of hospitals that was able to perform this new surgical technique.) My surgery occurred within a week of initial diagnosis.  Fast forward 20 years to 2016. My husband had died. I had moved back to the Rochester area, and was shocked to find out that I needed another open heart operation for an aneurysm of the aortic arch. Much more scary because it involved the arteries to the brain. Well, I made it through my 2nd sternotomy! I sympathize with your reluctance to give up your sports. I had lived in Utah and Colorado for 20 years and was a whitewater kayaker, mountain biker and skier. I replaced that with swimming and walking. Believe it or not, I enjoy the simple pleasure of just floating around in a pool. When I close my eyes I can conjure up those wonderful wilderness trips into the red rock canyons of southern Utah and the highest peaks of the Rockies. Be grateful you didn't put off those exciting adventures until it was too late. You'll come through this and still have a wonderful life. For info. on valve replacement, go to It's the website of Harvard Health Publishing. Read the article "Valve Replacement: Mechanical or Tissue?" Good luck!


Hello @davej .
I just noticed your mentioning an appointment at Mayo Clinic in August 7. I hope that appointment went well. If you are comfortable doing so, please provide an update on anything you might have learned.

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