It always feels a little odd, sharing my medical news with random strangers on the internet. However I started this blog with the desire to share my particular story as a runner with a heart condition and maybe to encourage people with heart conditions that it was possible to run and be active. CLEARLY I am not a doctor and I am not an expert and I would NEVER recommend disobeying your cardiologist if he tells you not to run. But for those of us who are healthy and strong, yet have this underlying condition, running is not necessarily a bad thing if managed carefully.
Last week I had my annual echocardiogram and today I went to see my cardiologist to get the results. I couldn’t decide whether to get an interval session in early that morning, in case he told me never to run fast again, or to wait till afterwards and maybe celebrate with a run. I chose the latter, but I rocked up at the hospital in my running gear 🙂
The news overall is good. My heart has not got any bigger – which is his overall indication of whether or not I’d need valve replacement surgery, something that will inevitably happen with time. My regurgitation hasn’t worsened and is still above the desirable level for people with perfectly healthy hearts. The aortic root hasn’t increased particularly. He had a very slight concern that, during my echo, my heart threw a couple of extra beats in there, so I was told to come back if I had any ‘flutters’. I have flutters VERY rarely but not frequently enough to worry either of us.
I was very honest with him about my running. The amount I do, my average speeds, my speedwork speeds, hills, that kind of thing. I love my cardiologist because he doesn’t just suck in his breath, shake his head and tell me not to run. He nods along and doesn’t look overly concerned, so if ever he does tell me not to run, I’d have confidence that he means it for a reason rather than just as a default setting! I’m insured with Kaiser so I mentioned I was training for the Kaiser Half and he may be running it too, which would reassure my Mum!
So overall, he told me to keep going and to keep myself as strong, healthy and fit as possible. I came away really grateful and positive and happy…and celebrated with hill repeats! As you do.