Ca State Cycling Champion Beating Heart Disease to Race (and win) Again.

I met Loren Stephens through this blog and my twitter. It happens that we only live a few miles away. I have only ridden once with Loren, on his recovery day, as I am rarely in good enough shape to even see his wheel. I am thoroughly motivated, and encouraged by what he has accomplished mentally and physically since his open heart surgery and heart attack. He is committed to not let his heart stop him from once again becoming a cycling champion. He wrote his account of hat happened to him below.

My Odyssey to return to the top level of masters bicycle racing after open heart surgery and subsequent heart attack

by Loren Stephens

I am an elite level masters cyclists in the USA. I have earned many podium finishes in masters time trial and criterium and am a past California State Masters Criterium Champion for 65+ men.

I was diagnosed with degenerative mitral valve disease (60% leakage) in April 2010. On July 1, 2010 at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center I had a 7.5 hour open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve and to do an atrium reduction. My heart was removed from my body in order to make the repairs. I spent 5 days in ICU and a total of 7 in the hospital.

After getting out of the hospital I struggled with some A Fib problems. I ended up having to be cardioverted out of it. I have been AF free since.

I was able to start training on the bike in September 2010. In late September I had a ventricular tachycardia event while riding and passed out cold. My Doc said I was lucky to be alive and took me off the bike and put me in cardio rehab.

After cardio rehab I was given the OK to start training on the bike again in preparation for the 2011 racing season. I was making great progress until February 15, 2011 when I had a heart attack on a training ride. After a stent and few days in the hospital I was out and found myself back in cardio rehab.

After completing rehab I was given the OK to start riding the bike again. I have been riding mainly to gain back my old levels of endurance.

In December 2011 I started working with my long time coach again and  started full on training in preparation for racing USA Cycling Masters Nationals in early September 2012. I have no restrictions other than the fact that I’m on Plavix which will limit my racing for the first half of the 2012 season. I have raced a couple of races just to test my fitness. In June I raced the California Senior Games and came in 2nd in the 40K road race which also qualifies me to race at the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland. My next races will be USA Cycling Masters Nationals in early September 2012 in Bend Oregon and the Huntsman World Senior Games in early October in St. George Utah.

Not bad for a guy who was told he would never race again. I proved them all wrong.

You can follow Loren’s twitter here and his blog and coaching website here.

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Rider site regarding VT and ARVD/C

Just got this post from Craig who was responding to another rider story(https://heartattackrider.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/anyone-with-arrhythmogenic-right-ventricular-dysplasi-rvd-who-rides-a-bike/#comments). Here is what Craig says on his site “My name is Craig Cook. In March of 2008 I was diagnosed with idiopathic ventricular tachycardia, a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia. I was fit and healthy, having spent a good part of my adult life as an elite cyclist, much of it racing in Europe. This blog is about my condition, the things that might have led to it, and the course of treatment I am on. It is written as a resource for other endurance athletes who might have arrhythmias.”

Thanks for the post Craig and posting about your health experiences.

Hi Eric,

Strange we haven’t crossed each other’s path in the blogosphere. My (very un-updated blog) discusses my adventures with VT and a non-genetic form of ARVD/C… you and your readers may be interested. I will update soon, currently in my final weeks in grad school, then freedom, and time. I still train – 8-10hrs a week, no competition until some issues get figured 0ut (occassional VT = zaps by the ICD)… http://v-tach.blogspot.com/ Nice effort on your blog, keep up the good work.

Best, Craig

http://v-tach.blogspot.com

Riding a Century After Open Heart Surgery! Readers story-

Hi, Eric. You said you were interested in some stories related to cardiac recovery. Last April, I underwent sudden open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve and repair the aortic root. Thirteen days days later, I had to have emergency pericardial surgery to drain fluid that was accumulating (1 liter’s worth).

I was already registered to ride the 2009 Make-A-Wish Foundation Wish-A-Mile 300 bicycle tour in July (100 miles a day x 3 days), and set a goal to try and ride it. I am happy to say that I was able to ride a full 100-mile century 116 days after my open heart surgery, 103 days after the 2nd surgery. I took Day 2 off, then rode another centuiry on Day 3.

As I reflected on it, I have begun to wonder if anyone else has completed a century that soon after such a surgery/episode. Do you know?

Mark

Cardiac Surgery Repairs Rescue Swimmer’s Mitral Valve


May 4, 2009
Robotic surgery gets patient back to his active lifestyle

San Diego – As a military rescue swimmer, 36-year-old Ronny German was in the best shape of his life and had no previous health problems. However, shortly after a routine dental cleaning, Ronny began to experience significant swelling in his joints, which his doctors initially diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis — a condition that runs in his family. As his symptoms worsened, further examinations and testing revealed a heavily leaking mitral valve in Ronny’s heart.

Ronny was told that he would need an operation to repair his mitral valve and chose to have the procedure using minimally invasive robotic surgery. During the robot-assisted surgery, his surgeon discovered that Ronny’s mitral valve was extensively infected.

After surgery Ronny was informed that the infection was the cause of his leaking mitral valve, and it was likely the result of the dental cleaning he received before the onset of his symptoms.

“I was shocked to learn that a routine dental cleaning could have such a serious complication,” said German. “When I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, I was never told that I should be taking antibiotics when I was having even simple dental work done.”

A recent study from the University at Buffalo in New York linked bacteria commonly found in the mouth to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiac complications.

After a successful robot-assisted mitral valve repair, Ronny recuperated at home, and within two weeks was back at his job with the U.S. Coast Guard. He received medical clearance three months after returning to work and quickly passed his rigorous monthly fitness test. Since his surgery Ronny has taken up paddle surfing and currently participates in five- to nine-mile races, with hopes to complete the Catalina Crossing in the future.

Minimally-invasive surgery offers quicker recovery
“A leaking mitral valve is more common in older adults, but we do see patients with the condition as a result of infection,” said James Hemp, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon with the Scripps Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program. “Open cardiac surgery requires a significant amount of recovery time, but we were fortunate to be able to offer Ronny an option that would allow him to continue his very active career and lifestyle.”

Minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery provides access to the heart through five small incisions, eliminating the need for surgeons to split the breastbone and spread open the ribcage in order to gain access to the heart. During robot-assisted surgery, tiny instruments and a three-dimensional camera are inserted through the incisions, and the surgeon controls the instruments from a console that provides a magnified view of the surgical field.

This system enhances surgical capabilities by offering even greater precision during surgery. A patient typically stays in the hospital for three to five days after minimally invasive cardiac surgery, compared to five days or more after traditional heart surgery. While the average recovery time after open-heart surgery is six to eight weeks, recovery time with robot-assisted cardiac surgery is between two and four weeks.

About Scripps Health
Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2 billion nonprofit community health system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,600 affiliated physicians and 12,300 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and an ambulatory care network of clinics, physician offices and outpatient centers.

Recognized as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research and graduate medical education.

Contact: Kristin Reinhardt
Phone: 619-686-3787
E-mail: reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org

Scripps Mercy Hospital, Scripps Clinic, Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery, Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery