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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Valvular Heart Diseases

Question: MVP and Weightlifting

 dinglebrecher - Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:23 am


First time posting here. I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse at a young age. I never noticed any symptoms as a child or teenager, but in my twenties I began noticing symptoms that could be related: lightheadedness, premature heartbeats, shortness of breath, chest pain, panic attacks, general fatigue, tendency to dehydration, etc... In short, the older I get the more symptoms I become aware of. Unfortunately, as I've been living overseas for the past three years in a country with fairly poor medical care, I haven't been to a doctor with expertise on this condition recently, despite two trips to the ER after my first two panic attacks. Both times EKGs came back normal as well as blood tests.

I am also an avid weightlifter, and often perform squats and deadlifts at weights upwards of 400lbs. From various searches I've performed on the internet I've read that it is not recommended for people with MVP to perform exercises that greatly increase thoracic pressure. I have yet to read an explanation as to why, however. I've also read that people with MVP are no more likely to suffer a heart attack than regular people. Basically, I'm looking for more insight on the subject. Is it dangerous for a sufferer of MVP to perform these exercises? Are there certain precautions I should take? I would hate to be required to give up weightlifting.
Some basic stats about myself:
-27 years old.
-Resting heart rate between 55 and 65bpm.
-Light cigarette smoker
-Occasional moderate drinker.
-5'11'', 175lbs
-Exercise 4 days per week for approximately one hour. Also, cycle on an almost daily basis.

I've just been concerned about my symptoms and looking for advice. Thanks so much. Best,

 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:54 pm

User avatar Hi Travis -- While nearly all MVPers can safely do as much as they feel like doing physically, there is that caveat about straining and heavy lifting, simply because this constitutes a Valsalva maneuver (stimulation of the sinus of valsalva by straining), which can cause a faint with consequent injury coincident with falling down. You've been lifting for a long time so, like most MVPers, you've already established what, if any, limitations you have. Doing what works for you should have no adverse effects. The only thing I would recommend -- and I'd recommend this anyway, to anyone -- is to have a spotter right there with you if you're doing extremely heavy bench pressing. Losing consciousness during such an exercise could be more than just painful. Other than that there's no reason you need to limit yourself beyond what your body tells you if feels like doing. MVP is essentially benign, although as you already know, it can carry with it certain odd problems you've already experienced. Staying hydrated is highly recommended too, in order to keep the fluid volume and blood pressure at normal levels.

Carry on. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to follow up with us here.

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