T Nation

Heart Failure, Fat Loss Advice?


#1

Hello, I was reading about your fun with cardiomyopathy. At 38 I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, with a ejection fraction of 13%(below transplant threshold).
10 years and three pacemakers later I am now working towards a leaner more muscular body.
I was up to 320lbs and have been working for about 6 months in the gym.
I began with a 5x5 program but am currently doing 2 a days. I am down almost 40lbs and would love to be under 240 someday. I use mostly compound lifts ,and supplement with whey, casein and Creatine.
Any assistance or advice you have would be a great help. I don’t have time constraints so I can make use of a variety of programming options.
Thanks, I enjoy your no nonsense approach to training.
Regards Corey


#2

At your weight you don’t have to use drastic measures. Just eat less crap, pick a program that you like and stick to it. Walk for 45-60 mins every other day or easy bike. Do not run. Then CT has two fat loss programs on Thibarmy, i haven’t done them but heard only good things so you might want to check them out.


#3

I feel uncomfortable answering that question. Yes I did have heart failure (and one heart attack) and I know what I did. I also worked with a client who was in the same situation. But giving only advice for such a situation can be risky.

Low intensity cardio was really important for me. I did a formal session every day on top of walking my dogs everyday too and taking evening walks with my wife 3-4 times a week. When I was coming back from my heart failure I put the lifting on the backburner (still lifted, but not as often and not as hard) until I recovered a significant portion of my heart function.

As for losing fat; eat less overall, cut own processed food, reduce sodium, eat a lot more green veggies. But you probably know all that.

There are no magic solution, just do everything better and stick with it


#4

My heart function is normal now, and I am progressing. I don’t try 1rm ever. Just want an intelligent and effective program for responsible growth and strength


#5

Can I ask…was weightlifting the major contributor to heart failure? that is scary to think about.

i know PED/anabolics can have a significant impact as well. genreally we think of lifting being healthy but i seem to read a lot of older lifters/strenght athletes having heart issues…


#6

Me it was viral myocarditis… a virus propagated to the heart and led to the heart failure. Got stung by a weird mosquito while on my honeymoon in Aruba


#7

As for older lifters having heart issues. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Is it really higher in proportion than the regular population? Or is it simply that we hear more about it?

  2. Could be nutrition related… mostly the very high calories that are/were used to “bulk up” and the tons of red meat (I know that there are mixed studies on this)

  3. Could be body weight related… if your body is designed to be 170lbs and you spend most of your life at 210-220 (50lbs higher than what you would have normally been) it could impose a lot of stress on the organism, regardless of if the size gained was done with or without the help of PED

  4. Cardiac hypertrophy … this is one of the biggest risk factor of cardiac problems. A thickening of the ventricles’ wall make the heart less extensible as such it is harder for it to expend to push a lot of blood at one time; demanding that the heart beat a lot more frequently. Hardcore lifters in general tend of have that problem and it is made worse with the use of PEDs

  5. Lack of cardiovascular work … let’s face it; most lifters hate cardio (or conditioning work). And even though it is popular to say that lifting is just as cardio to improve cardiovascular function; experience tells me that this is just not true. If one does tons of heavy lifting, especially with long rest intervals the cardiovascular system might not improve at the same rate as the muscles and eventually it might become deficient.

These are just some possible explanations


#8

No, my cardiomyopathy was viral.

I have never used peds( not judging), Dr, figures a cold virus attacked the muscle of my heart


#9

This virus thing is very novel…i never thought a cold virus or a mosquito bite could cause something as drastic as a heart attack or heart failure…hope your health improves!

pro fitness/weightliftes will show studies of weightlifitng having the same benefits as cardio for the heart. the thickening of the ventricles is quite scary, though i remmeber reading cardio caused a similar (enlargening of heart?) condition that would also lead to heart failure. and lots of guys die whiel on the treadmill.

so nowe can’t lifft…and we cant run!

they also say muscle is metabolic currecy and more muscle, especially as you age is supposedly good for health (metabolic, hormonal, skeletal, endocrine…one woudl think it woudl apply to cardiovascular as well)


#10

Excessive high level cardio might increase the overall size BUT also keep the heart extensible and efficient… “weightlifter heart” is thicker and less extensible, that is the problem.


#11

Ok then take an advanced lifter and have him do a marathon and tell me if his cardio is as good as a runner


#12

It is, in fact grip strength is one of the best predictor of lifespan. But like with everything, excess is almost always as bad as deficiencies.


#13

I suffer from CHF (severely dilated left ventricle, big hole in my aortic valve, three holes in my heart), and recently had surgery to replace the valve and patch the holes. I’ve lost almost 20kg over the past year, by doing short weight sessions, and steady state cardio on off days, combined with a low carb diet and some fasting thrown in.
I found that if I did shorter sessions of 20 minutes cardio, the intensity needed affected my recovery (and in turn my breathing), so I go a little lower for around 45 minutes. This seems to put less stress on my body and my heart, so I don’t feel exhausted. The aim of cardio for us is to help the heart strengthen, and the body to recover, not to add more stress. I always get AT LEAST 2 of these cardio sessions in a week.
The only movement I go heavy on, is the first of the day, and never over 80% 1RM, as higher weights can play hell on your blood pressure, which is no good for people in our situation. I then follow up with assistance lifts at higher reps, usually supersetted, to keep the heart rate up, hopefully improving fitness. I’ve just started adding some conditioning at the end of my sessions too.
Rest is a major factor too. It’s much easier for me to feel overtrained now. I can tell by my breathing and quality of sleep. If you feel a bit burned out, take a few days off the gym.


#14

Also, I’m not saying low carb is some miracle diet (I’m not one of those guys), it just allows me to cook much tastier meals, which makes sticking to it much easier in the long term.