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sailing after a heart attack

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Captmayhem, Aug 31, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Captmayhem


    Joined Mar 31, 2013
    185 posts, 39 likes
    O'day 23
    US Pa
    So I managed to go get myself a heart attack, at 46 <sigh>
    Are there any souls here who still sail after an MI , mild or severe. I'm more than a little worried about getting back out there, as most of my sailing is/was solo, albeit on a small lake.
    Really not sure what my course of action is going to be at this point, still feeling more than a little sorry for myself likely doesn't help.

  2. Captain Larry-DH

    Captain Larry-DH

    Joined Jun 14, 2010
    322 posts, 113 likes
    Quorning Dragonfly 1200
    US home
    Look up Dr Caldwell Esselstyn. It might save your life, or at least let you live longer without medication or surgery. Also watch the movie FORKS OVER KNIVES you can stream it on Netflix

    pateco likes this.
  3. Rick D

    Rick D

    Joined Jun 14, 2008
    6,506 posts, 148 likes
    Hunter Legend 40.5
    US Long Beach, Shoreline Marina, CA
    I don't know very many older sailors who have not recovered from one. Keep care of yourself, follow the Doc's orders and you should be fine. Enjoy!

    Captmayhem likes this.
  4. Doug4bass


    Joined Jun 9, 2004
    608 posts, 62 likes
    Catalina 385
    US Marquette. Mi
    My father in-law has 7 stents. He's 83 and manages a C-28 nicely.........on Lake Superior. And if he dies sailing, he died happy, very happy.

    Captmayhem, uncledom and Gunni like this.
  5. Jerry Clark H356 SV Persi

    Jerry Clark H356 SV Persi

    Joined Mar 3, 2003
    614 posts, 41 likes
    Hunter 356
    US Grand Rivers
    I had mine at 52. Major heart attack, then double bypass surgery. Had an effective pump at 50% of normal afterwards. Then went into congestive heart failure and got a defibrillator. My EF got down to 15 to 20 percent. Now I'm back to 30-35 percent. I am on my third one. I just had an office checkup and had NO irregular events last year. First year I have not had any events since 2003. Have had stents to clear collapsed bypass, then stents inside stents. I'm 70 now. No problems sailing at all. At 66 my wife and I took our 356 from Kentucky Lake to Punta Gorda, FL on a 6 month cruise. I do all the sailing and she does all the cooking. My Cardiologist says I am like an 8 cylinder engine hitting on 4 cylinders. I can do what I want,I just have to do it slower and be more deliberate.

    For the first few years you will worry about yourself and be a bit insecure. Try to get over it. They key is think of yourself as lucky you had one and learn from it. You could,be dead you know. From now on keep a good diet, go for frequent checkups and follow your Cardiologist's advice. My best friend was cutting the end off a Christmas tree last December and fell back dead before he hit the ground. He had been duck hunting the morning of and thought he was in excellent health. I know my health and I know my limits. I have a stress echo every year that my Cardiologist reads himself. I see him every 6 months, my Internist every 4 month. Just stay proactive and take it as a warning that you were following a bad lifestyle or had bad genetics. I had both. Go sailing!!

    MightyMike, Captmayhem and LloydB like this.
  6. Bad Obsession

    Bad Obsession

    Joined May 23, 2004
    3,272 posts, 78 likes
    N/A N/A
    US Colonial Beach
    My first was at 28. I had another one six years later. They aren't major ones and they haven't damaged my heart and it is some genetic thing that caused it. Either way, full recovery each time, and pretty quickly too.

    Follow Doctor's Orders, watch your diet, and keep up with your health. Don't rush into stuff either, it will come.

    I have run quite a bit since both heart attacks, I was up to 15K a week at one point. After your stint heals, assuming you have one, you should see what your doctor doctor would like you to do about activity.

    Good luck, things will fall into place. I am still the young guy when I go into the Cardiologist's office. LOL.

    Captmayhem likes this.
  7. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,618 posts, 469 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    My dad is 78 and had his first bypass (5-way) at 46. At 58 he had stents and within a few years they failed. He then had a second bypass (3-way).. At 74 he had his first MI and one more stent (supposedly not the bad ones).

    We climbed both Mt. Washington & Mt. Katahdin last fall, do a ton of skiing each winter, he does nearly 40 days of skiing a year, and last fall we also did four upland bird hunting trips spending sun up to sundown in the thick woods & Alders of Northern Maine.. He sails with me pretty frequently and is no slouch on the grinders. His knee is his biggest hurdle, a US Army injury in the 60's, not his heart...

    As my dad says often, "If you let your mind tell you your feeble, you will become feeble." My dad is a machine because he believes, thinks and acts like he's 40 not almost 79.......

  8. litrenta1


    Joined Jul 26, 2017
    7 posts, 8 likes
    pearson 35
    US quincy
    I had an MI at 45 stented took 6 months off then started sailing again racing rhodes 19's. I am 63 now diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer 4 years ago went through chemo radiation and surgery (thankfully cancer free now) took 2 years off it really took a lot out of me. Don't race anymore but still do coastal cruising in my pearson single handed, important to get to the gym get in good shape before you go back out especially alone.

    All U Get and Captmayhem like this.
  9. Captmayhem


    Joined Mar 31, 2013
    185 posts, 39 likes
    O'day 23
    US Pa
    wow, just wow.
    Jerry, my "dream boat is the 356, still driving towards that goal"
    Humbled and somewhat amazed guys

  10. blunt


    Joined Jul 27, 2015
    76 posts, 10 likes
    1980 hunter 33
    US Corpus christi
    had my heart attack june 8 of this year.i am 61 and had 1 stent put in,no damage.i am back to work and working on our boat.

    All U Get likes this.
  11. markwbird


    Joined Nov 26, 2012
    806 posts, 143 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Berkeley
    I'm curious. Were there warning signs leading up the heart attack. Symptoms?

  12. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho

    Joined Jan 7, 2011
    971 posts, 122 likes
    Oday 322
    US East Chicago, IN
    My co-owner had one of his heart valves replaced a year ago or so (he is about 69) and he is still out sailing every week.


  13. smokey73


    Joined Oct 26, 2010
    568 posts, 99 likes
    Hunter 40.5
    US Beaufort, SC
    Had three heart attacks when I was 46. Had three stents then they where 70% clogged in about three months. Ended up with 5 way bypass a year later. That was 20 years ago. Currently sail a Hunter 40.5, most often singlehanded (even with my wife on board). No real problems and like Maine's dad I refuse to let it sideline me. Way to much to left to do in my life. I went white water rafting on the Colorado, descended to the bottom of Bryce Canyon, para-glided in Utah and sail as much as I can. I'm now 66 and my doctor says I can do whatever I want. Follow your doctor's instructions. I pushed myself, within my limits of course, to get back in shape and it has paid off. You should be fine if you ease into it and know you limits. I did install an electric halyard winch though, that big main on the 40.5 was a real bear to haul up. Hang in there and don't accept the concept that a heart attack has to bring things you enjoy to an end - it only does that if you let it.

    Captmayhem and Rick D like this.
  14. Captmayhem


    Joined Mar 31, 2013
    185 posts, 39 likes
    O'day 23
    US Pa
    Markwbird, none zip, nada!
    I'm over weight but pretty active, soccer with the kids, walking at work around 5-6k steps a day. smoked years ago,like 10 or so. I do like food(or at least did, the heart diet fixes that). And I do like a drink, though not to extreme.
    went to bed last Tuesday feeling good, something woke me around 4.30am, just didn't feel right, thought it was maybe indigestion took a couple of pepcids.
    within a half hour I was laying at the bottom of the stairs clutching my chest telling my wife the codes for the missile launch(well computer etc ).
    It's less than 3 miles to the hospital, by the time the ambulance got there, I felt much MUCH better, it's only when the blood work came back that Wednesday became a blur.
    For those that know about these things, was 100% of the OM? given how I felt, I'd hardly call it marginal!

    Smokey, how'd they determine the re blockages? they cath you again to check? or did you start having symptoms? I presume these were bare metal, not the drug leaching ones they use now?

  15. jeepbluetj


    Joined Jan 18, 2016
    427 posts, 117 likes
    Catalina 30
    US Dana Point
    Hey, as (almost) always I agree with Maine Sail. So you had a MI. If you recovered enough to take the boat out, then take the dang boat out. It's likely really freakin good for you.

    I'm past 50... And I've come to the conclusion: "Do what makes me happy." And if that's sailing - then sail. Don't worry. It's just life. You do not go to the carnival because the carnival ends... You go because you want to go the carnival.

  16. smokey73


    Joined Oct 26, 2010
    568 posts, 99 likes
    Hunter 40.5
    US Beaufort, SC
    Yes, the stents were bare metal. The drug ones weren't approved for use in the US then. As far as symptom after the stents clogged its really strange. I physically felt okay but had what I could only describe as an "overwhelming sense of lack of well being." My wife was at work at school at a winter festival. I drove into town and told her about the feeling. She insisted I go to the hospital so I did. They did blood work and and EKG and said they couldn't find anything indicating a heart attack but based on my history they wanted me to go to a bigger hospital where I had the stents put in. I did and they performed a cath and said they were 70% blocked. My recourse was to go home and I'd probably have another heart attack. Might be in a month, might be in a year but it would probably kill me or I could have bypass surgery (we thought they would do 3 but ended up doing 5). I said okay and figured they would send me home and schedule it later since I had no symptoms. They said good because we've cleared our schedule and we're doing it in the morning! After the bypass I coached High School Wrestling for 10 years and got on the mat and wrestled with the team. (They knew when I said stop it meant STOP). I never went to a day of post bypass therapy - the doc didn't want me around a bunch of old people who where complaining about how bad they felt.

    My first symptoms when I had the first three attacks were not typical. I did not have central chest pain, arm numbness, or the elephant on the chest. Instead I felt lethargic and ached under my arm pits, like the flu. I was working at a Nuclear Plant away from home and about midnight I couldn't go to sleep. I had this "still small voice" that said I should go to the hospital and drove myself. They were going to treat me for the flu but an astute nurse said "lets do an EKG just in case." That nurse really saved my life. I had a 100% blockage on my right coronary artery. If I had gone to sleep I probably would have died and been that cold dead guy the found in the hotel room. My mantra now is "Any day you get up in the morning and your feet hit the ground its a great day!"

    Captmayhem and All U Get like this.
  17. Jerry Clark H356 SV Persi

    Jerry Clark H356 SV Persi

    Joined Mar 3, 2003
    614 posts, 41 likes
    Hunter 356
    US Grand Rivers
    Markwbird: It was 18 years ago yesterday at the UT- Wyoming game in Knoxville, TN. We had lunch at a new restaurant with our son, a student at UT and I was hungry when we got here. They brought a basket of various breads and I ate quite a bit. I ordered a cheeseburger with fries and while driving back over to his condo to park and walk to the game, I had a large dose of indigestion. I had ulcers, lived a bad, stressful lifestyle, so kept Rolaids and Tagamet with me all the time. Incomplained that my wife had let me eat bread with garlic ( I had not). I ate 3 or 4 Rolaids and took a Tagamet and began walking 2-1/2 miles to the game. It was a very hot day and Knoxville has large hills. I was walking along, getting hot and near a Walgreens and my wife looked at me and thought something was wrong. I felt terrible with the heat, the indigestion, and what I felt was a gas bubble on my chest. We went into Walgreens and it was wall to wall people. We left, walked about 1/4 mile and went into the lobby of one of the dorms. It was cool and I wanted to just cool off and I thought I would be better. My wife asked if I thought I was having a heat attack and I said absolutely not! My ego would not allow me to have a hear attack! I told her that even if I were, I'd rather be at the stadium where they had EMT's and laughed it off.

    We stayed for the game, walked back the 2-1/2 mikes to the car and when I got there, I told her I was too exhausted to drive the 3-1/2 hours back home. She drove until about 2 AM, pulled off and woke me and I drove the rest of the way home. I taught Sunday School at 9 AM, went him after church and crashed. We usually would have drive. To the lake (1-1/4 hours away) and sailed our Hunter 260. I told her I was too tired to go. Labor Day I was still too tired and just laid around and watched TV. That was totally not me. I burned the candle from both ends and was never tired. Next day she called her Internist at St Thomas Hospital in Nashville and got me an appointment for Thursday. I was so mad she did that as I blew the whole thing off. She absolutely made me go. They put me on a treadmill with an EKG and I went 8 minutes and 46 seconds until they stopped it, took me off and gave me nitroglycerin. I got a prescription for nitro, was set to see (now my Cardiologist) and had an appointment for the next morning at 9 AM. Had to take another nitro in his office and they did an immediate Arteriorgram. Was diagnosed with 2 - 99.9% blockages referred to as Widow Makers. Was on the Operating Table by 1:00 PM. Two bypasses and a lot of other stuff and here I am today.

    Anybody with similar symptoms GET YOUSELF TO THE ER ASAP. Sorry to be so detailed but I am very lucky to be here and I hope that this may keep someone with my very dumb previous attitude to go get a checkup. Most men would rather die than admit they could have a vulnerability. Not me anymore. I see my Cardiologist every 6 months, my Internist every 4 months, My Electrophsiology Cardiologist (Defribilator) every year and am wirelessly monitored every day in my home. I could possibly make another 18 years. I've had stents twice and am on my 3rd Defribilator as I am sitting here on my boat writing this reply.

    Rick D likes this.
  18. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,490 posts, 240 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH

  19. Pat


    Joined Jun 7, 2004
    1,183 posts, 43 likes
    Oday 272LE
    US Ninnescah Yacht Club, Wichita, Ks.
    Sorry to hear of you attack....I had a heart attack at our yacht club Christmas party....downed a bunch of aspirins which they say kept me alive; sang in the choir on the Sunday (day after the attack), still felt lousy on Monday although I was still downing the aspirin and was finally sent to the hospital after my GP ran tests on me. I woke up in the emergency room that afternoon and there was a lady sitting next to me so I asked her who she was and she said "I'm your cardiologist".....that was in Dec. 1994.....went thru all kinds of rehab, found out I was diabetic, but you know what; I"m still sailing my little 272 LE....sometimes by myself.....the attack was in December of 1994 and here I am.....I never think of having another attack and I feel really good every day....I've had excellent care from my primary physicians, the VA physicians and just feel really fortunate to be alive every day....had the 4 way bypass on Dec 24, 1994 and here we are; going sailing this afternoon after initiating 15 new families into our club, eating dinner at our sailing club,then going out for a sail; anchoring at dusk to enjoy our club's fireworks display and I pray that you will have the good fortune to have the same care as I have had......keep your chin thankful for your good fortune to still be here enjoying your life......and you will be sailing your boat in good time....not immediately, but you too will sail your boat.....I'll also be truthful; I do get a little nervous sailing by myself.....but,
    I don't let it bother me too much......but I'm pretty choosy about the weather...I don't take any chances with the weather....God be with you !....Happy Labor Day Weekend.....Patrick in Wichita

    sdstef likes this.
  20. smokey73


    Joined Oct 26, 2010
    568 posts, 99 likes
    Hunter 40.5
    US Beaufort, SC
    Jerry - I went to St. Thomas for my second and third stents as well as the 5-way bypass. When I went in to tell my wife that I had "this overwhelming sense of lack of well being" she insisted I go the the ER. I had already had the first three heart attacks and the three stents. I still refused to accept that I was vulnerable - to much male ego. When the local hospital ER said they wanted to send me to St. Thomas I initially wanted to decline and sign my self out but my wife would have nothing of it. Thank God they can get pushing sometime! Don't ignore symptoms, even funky ones like the unusual "fatigue" if you are one of us Type A, always on the go types that just don't get fatigued. I'm still sailing and just got back this afternoon from the boat getting a few early things done in case Irma decides to visit us next weekend. Stay safe, listen to that "still small voice" in your head and that much more emphatic one from you spouse and enjoy your sailing. Life's too short to worry about what you "can't do". Do what you can and remember to appreciate every day. Like Jerry, I'm got a lot of years of "extra time" that might not have been. Enjoy them when you have them.

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