T Nation

Marfan Syndrome and Weight Training?

My girlfriend has just recently taken interest in lifting weights with me and I’m ecstatic about it. I am currently in the process of teaching her the form of the basic big exercises (squats, deads, chins and presses) with lighter weights since she has never done any lifting (or any high-intensity exercise other than dancing).

Unfortunately, my girlfriend inherited Marfan’s syndrome from her dad’s side of the family. A quick search of the internet will explain that the disease can cause heart problems (among other things–long limbs, flat feet, dental problems, ect).

Although you’d never tell by just looking at her, my woman has been diagnosed with a condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse, or MVP, where a small amount of blood actually leaks back into the valve of the heart after it’s already been pumped out. While she claims that her doctor told her it shouldn’t be a problem unless a signifigant amount of blood starts leaking back, I’m weary of having her do an intense exercise program such as weight training, that I know for a fact increases blood pressure by a very large amount… even if only for a relatively small amount of time.

On the other hand, I still want her to weight train for both the health and aesthetic benefits that come along with that as well. I just don’t want her heart to explode or deflated entirely while pumping out squat reps. Most of the information I have come across highly discourages intense physical activity, on account of the blood pressure rise. However, in the same sense, a lot of websites discourage weight lifting on the simple basis that it’s bad for your joints (which obviously it isn’t). My point is that any of these recommendations could be high exaggerated, if not completely fabricated.

Since it is a fairly common genetic disorder (estimated 1 in 10,000 people have marfan’s), I was wondering if anyone here may have any personal or second-hand experience pertaining to this particular situation. More specifically, I was hoping anyone with personal experience had an opinion on weight training’s effect on the heart in people with marfan’s syndrome.

Thank you for your time.

Matt Rhodes has Marfan’s syndrome.
You can find an interview here:
Lots of other info (articles, bio, training log) is available at EliteFTS, and you may want to try the Q&A:

Thanks for the links man. I appreciate it.

I realize this is seven years old, but I had to look this up and track down the link. After some major health issues my brother was genetically diagnosed with this. I am yet to be tested but I haven’t had his issues (thus far).