Any climbers out there

I am new to this site and have posted this thread on two other forums before I found this sports thread. Sorry
I just got my ICD defibrillator 8 days ago for Vtach diagnosed last year, VF two weeks ago and external defibrillation . 55 years old . I have been a avid rock climber for over 30 years having enjoyed all aspects of the sport. The last few years I mainly sport climb (5.12a/b)and boulder. Does anyone still climb as hard as they did before surgery? How about indoor training , any thoughts ? Climbing is such a big part of my life , I can't see giving it up. Is there any risk of pulling the wires from over gripping or pulling too hard? The sun is shining here on the West Coast and I feel like a prisoner in my own body. Help!!!!



by CathrynB - 2007-08-24 09:08:02

Hi Rolf. Welcome to Pacemaker Club! I hope your surgery went smoothly and recovery is going well.
I'm a 50-year-old female with a pacemaker, not an ICD, and I was never as serious a climber as you are, but will offer a couple thoughts. I'm a runner, kayaker, downhill skier, bicycler, mountain climber (mostly glaciers, not rocks) and scuba diver. I gave up rock climbing 20 years ago when I had kids and hope to go at it again shortly -- I just helped my last child move into a college dorm yesterday, so could be a nice way to fill the Empty Nest.
You obviously need to follow your doctor's directions regarding whether to climb again, but I'm not clear why, in general, a person couldn't continue to rock climb after getting an ICD. The biggest issue might be that if your ICD fired while you were on rock, you'd almost certainly take a fall, so you'd want to always be top-roped now rather than leading, and make sure you don't allow a big angle from the next protection to where you are as you wouldn't want to undergo a big swing if you fell. The strain on your pectoral muscles, as you know, is huge when you're doing that kind of rock climbing, so you'd probably want to wait longer than the usually recommended 6 weeks to let your leads get securely fastened in their location -- maybe 3 months -- but other than that it doesn't seem likely to me you'd pull a lead any more from climbing than lifting weights or other activities people do after getting a PM/ICD. The bigger concern might be damaging an electrical lead if it runs too close to your collarbone. You might want to discuss that question with your doctor. Where do you climb? I'm in the Seattle area and had to miss a climb of Mt. Rainier this summer because I had PM relocation surgery 5 weeks ago, but I'm back to all my other activities now except scuba diving.
Best wishes for a quick recovery and keep us posted on how things are going for you. Take care, Cathryn


by mike thurston - 2007-08-24 10:08:56

Interesting. I am 55yrs. old and have been climbing for about 16 or 17 years, although no where near 5.12.
I built and owned a climbing gym in Bloomington, IN. called Hoosier Heights. My son now owns and operates the gym. In Oct. 2000 I suffered a big heart attack and lost about 1/3rd of my heart. I received a stent and also suffered from A-Fib. I got back to climbing and took up biking and although dealing with the A-Fib was hard I did o.k. Long story short the A-Fib became permanent, my EF went down to 20% and I went through a failed mini-maze that resulted in me going into shock and having my chest cut open to finish the mini-maze. Bummer. Anyway I had my AV Node ablated and the ICD/Pacer installed on May 15th. of this year. EF went up to 45% and I have slowly returned to biking and lifting. So far I can ride my Mtn. Bike on the road for a couple of hours and feel pretty good. I want to start climbing and my EP and the Medtronic Reps. actually do not discourage this. I am fairly big for a climber (5'10" at 220lbs.) so I will lose weight and climb easy stuff. I to worry about lead damage but the Doc says it is difficult to predict what will and won't cause problems. Over the years I have come to realize that climbing for me is as much about relationships as opposed to how hard I climb. I will be more than content to climb a 5.3 at Seneca and 5.8 sport at the Red.
If harder stuff comes and is easier than that is o.k. too.
I once hiked from my hotel in Boulder up to the 1st. Flat Iron in 95% heat and then soloed up about 400 feet of easy rock to the right of the flat iron. I was in vicious A-Fib and I have had this happen on many, many occasions while leading, t-ring and biking. I am hoping that I will feel better than ever now that I am totally pacemaker dependent. I wish you all the best in your climbing and hope you get to live out your dreams.

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I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for pacemakers. I've had mine for 35+ years. I was fainting all of the time and had flat-lined also. I feel very blessed to live in this time of technology.