Hello. This is my first post here, although I have been reading the site for about a year. I am a woman in my early 40's and had an episode of what seems to be Takotsubo while in a high adrenaline/adventure situation. The first set of cardiologists said I could run in a matter of days, once the angiogram entry site healed. However, I have felt like a trip to the grocery store is strenuous, and my outpatient cardiologists indicated that I have to act like I've had an actual heart attack and it definitely takes longer to heal than the few days I was originally told. I've read a lot on this, and am hopeful, but petrified of recurrence. Particularly because the episode which brought it on was not grief.
I've gradually come to the realization that my first half, in three weeks, is not going to happen for me. There will be other races and I will accept that. I am not running right now, and will do a stress echo next week, and work with the cardiologists, however my confidence in my future of running is completely blown. This syndrome is usually for post menopausal women and often related to stress or grief, but it can be related to heavy physical activity. Obviously the very nature of running IS heavy physical activity. Does anyone have any advice on getting one's confidence back after an episode of Takotsubo, or any major health event for that matter?
Thanks so much! ThreeBeez
Sorry there hasn't been much input on this, but there is truth to what all the doctors have told you, though the advice may seem contradictory. At one time, rest was considered to be the best form of recovery from adverse cardiac events, but even recent patients of open heart surgery are now encouraged to exercise in moderation. True, statistics show there is an increased risk of sudden death during strenuous physical activity, but as you know, the overall risk of death decreases as activity level increases, at least to a moderate level. There is no point in waiting for unchallenged tissue to grow strong. As with all athletes, your heart will benefit from a reasonable amount of activity.
My system crashed during my research of takotsubo, but I recall a ballpark figure of two months of recovery time before "normal" activity could resume. Of course, what we runners call "normal activity" can vary quite a bit, but I would advise you to purchase, if you haven't already done so, a heart monitor (strapped type) to wear during all your training, as I do. I keep a log of average and peak heart rates for every workout. In your case, a target number should be established by your doctors for what is most therapeutic. As a rule of thumb, I would say that 400 meter sprints at maximum capacity are not recommended, and walking is not vigorous enough. You'll probably be told to keep things between resting and max heart rates, up to 80% max after a while.
Treat this as another form of heart disease and follow the outpatient cardios' advice. Of course there will be discomfort until things are back to normal, but activity will accelerate your recovery vs. inactivity. However, you are correct that competition is not a good idea at this point in time. Psychologically, if you trust your training and know you have put in the time and effort it takes to prepare, the resulting exhaustion should keep you on an even keel going forward. Don't worry about trophies because they will happen as much by accident as on purpose. The very best lose all the time. When you are back in the saddle again, just run your race.
Thank you so much for your input, James. I knew it was a request and situation that was a bit "out there", so I didn't think the response would be overwhelming. I was hopeful for some words of advice though.
I have been kicking myself, as DH gave me a watch and heart monitor combo for Christmas last year, and it seemed too technical for me. I returned it for an ironman watch. But, I may be back to get it again.
The good news is that, during a stress echo yesterday, the part of my heart which was hypokinetic is now moving. And, I put out twice what they predicted me to do for my age. They let me go to 80% of my rec'd heart rate during the test. Although I was completely winded, it wasn't too bad. Dizzy afterwards, but short lived. And, darn if it didn't feel good to get to run a bit those last few minutes and be in RUNNING CLOTHES! LOL
I have a follow up next week with the person in this practice who studies the Takotsubo phenomenon. I will ask about resuming running, and how to be best prepared if any symptoms persist...and what they would recommend for my heart rates. While an inpatient, I know I was an anomaly, and they called the manufacturer of the angio seal on my leg because they said "they don't get questions about running very often". But, I think anyone here would be heartened to know that 3 of 4 cardiologists took the time to specifically tell me to continue running as time permits, as it is one of the best choices I can make for myself.
Thanks for your feedback, and I will try and keep in mind the "staying active" even if muscle is damaged verses sitting around waiting to be 100%. My upcoming half won't happen, and I've e-mailed the race official asking to defer for a year...and I will happily put "DNS" over the t-shirt our running group made!
Again, I appreciate your time and input.