The first human heart transplant was performed in 1967 and now it is considered as a life-saving surgery. In heart transplant surgery, the patient’s diseased heart is removed and replaced with a healthy donor’s heart. The donor is a dead person or declared brain-dead by the doctor and the family agrees to donate the organ.
Can a person lead normal life after heart transplant?
Life after heart transplant requires a healthy heart lifestyle. Post-transplant, patient is generally reviewed as an out-patient and undergoes scheduled tests, to check for and avoid heart transplant rejection. Apart from this, the patient has to undergo a few evaluation tests to check the health of the heart. When following points are to be kept in mind after heart transplant surgery, so that the patient can lead a normal life:
- Be regular with your medicines: After heart transplant, doctor will prescribe medicines which also includes medicines to avoid rejection of the new heart. Medicines should be taken regularly without fail.
- Follow your doctor’s advice: Doctor should be visited as per the schedule and immediately in case of onset of any signs of rejection or any other problem.
- Eat right: Your diet should include fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Low sodium and low sugar diet is generally advisable to avoid any heart-related issues. Your doctor will give you a specific guideline for your diet.
- Exercise is important: Exercise is recommended to keep your heart healthy and to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Discuss with the doctor before beginning your exercise.
How can heart transplant affect how you do exercise?
Exercise helps you to train the new heart, but there are restrictions. It is important to continue the exercise program as guided by the physical therapist after heart transplant. The transplanted heart may respond slowly to exercise.
Once you are through with your healing period and your doctor approves, you can start doing exercises after checking with the doctor.
What are the precautions to be taken to start exercise after heart transplant?
The path to a healthy life after heart transplant is to be active and do exercise. But before starting a fitness regime, it is very important to consult your doctor, who will further tell you the do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t lift or push or pull heavy objects.
- Don’t do any push-ups or sit-ups.
- Don’t attempt any activities that causes a feeling of pull or pain in the chest.
- Try to take small breaks as and when required.
- Don’t overdo but start gradually
Initially, walking will be suggested with rest in between, rather than slow jogging. In your cardiac rehabilitation program, your physical therapist will customise an exercise program to be followed on an out-patient basis, based on your heart condition, age and your health condition.
What are the benefits of exercise after heart transplant?
Exercise after heart transplant is started before discharge. Heart transplant gives the patient a second life and exercise gives good quality to that second life.
Benefits of exercise
- Strengthens the new heart
- Trains your heart to a new endurance level
- Reduces damage to new heart
- Reduces chances of high blood pressure
- Reduces chances of diabetes
- Reduces the side effect of medications
- It makes you feel healthier again
- It helps control weight gain
Let’s get started:
- Talk to your cardiologist and check for the specific exercise program recommended for you.
- Follow your medication properly and without any fail.
- The whole objective of exercise is to improve the cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and co-ordination and avoid any risk of injury.
- Start with walking.
- Shorter sessions are suggested initially with gradual increase in the duration.
- Dress comfortably and exercise at optimum temperature .
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- The entire work out schedule should be comfortable, hence take frequent breaks in between.
- Even if you were actively exercising before, you will feel a decrease in fitness due to the recovery process after heart transplant surgery.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Do not attempt sit-ups or push-ups.
- Stop exercising in case you feel angina (chest pain) and contact the cardiologist immediately.
- If you are not well, don’t exercise. Slowly return to your exercise routine once you are normal.
It is significant to note that exercise has to be a part of your daily life after heart transplant surgery. Along with formal out-patient cardiac rehabilitation program and you can start your own fitness program after consultation with your cardiologist and physical therapist. Exercise is important to lead a healthy lifestyle and be active in your daily life. However, any signs of discomfort or rejection of heart transplant needs immediate medical attention. Remember that the objective of exercise after heart transplant is to improve your overall physical and mental health.