Weightlifting With A Heart Murmur
A heart murmur is a common symptom that can occur from a few different causes. In simple terms, a heart murmur is a wooshing sound that a doctor will hear during a heart beat. Normally a heart beat has two sounds, wub-dub. A heart murmur is an additional sound that is caused by blood flowing between the wub-dub. The murmur is just the sound caused by blood flowing. This can be detected with a stethoscope and does not require any additional tests. A heart murmur might be benevolent, or it might be a symptom of an underlying heart problem. If your doctor has noticed a heart murmur, they should run additional tests to find the cause of the murmur they are hearing. Without knowing what is causing the murmur, there is no way to know if you are healthy and if weightlifting is healthy or not.
If you are unsure of what is causing your heart murmur, you should take a break from weightlifting until your doctor finds the cause of the heart murmur or until your doctor tells you that the heart murmur is not indicative of any serious health condition.
As with an medical questions or concerns, go speak to your doctor. They will be the best person to tell you what is safe and unsafe for you.
Weightlifting With Aortic Stenosis
One of the more common causes of a heart murmur is aortic stenosis. This is a condition where the aortic valve is more narrow than normal.
The aortic valve is a part of your heart that blood flows through. Blood going between your heart and your aortic artery goes through the aortic valve. If this valve becomes narrow (stenosis) it becomes more difficult for blood to flow through the valve from your heart into the rest of your body. Your heart ends up having to work extra hard and push extra hard to get blood to the rest of your body.
Over time, this can lead to heart damage, chest pains, and even heart failure. It’s a serious condition that should be monitored on a regular basis by a cardiologist.
Generally speaking, it is advised that people with aortic stenosis avoid heavy weightlifting. The reason is that when you lift heavy weights, this jacks up your blood pressure. This high blood pressure creates even more pressure on the part of your heart that is trying to push blood through the narrowed aortic valve. This increases the chance of damaging your heart.
Lifts such as deadlifting, which often encourages the Valsalva maneuver are especially bad for someone with aortic stenosis.
Individuals with aortic stenosis are instead encouraged to take up lower intensity sports such as cycling. These types of sports are not going to create the same level of pressure on the heart.
Not All Is Lost
The above advise is true of the general population. However, if you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur or aortic stenosis, you should ask your cardiologist about weightlifting specifically. A cardiologist may perform an echocardiogram or even a cat scan of your heart. This will give them a much better idea of what your heart looks like and how narrow your aortic valve actually is.
Sometimes, if you are not showing an symptoms (such as shortness of breath) they may allow you to continue to lift weights. It really depends on your particular heart and only a doctor can tell you for sure.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Had Aortic Valve Stenosis
The world’s most famous bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a lifelong heart murmur and had aortic valve stenosis. He had to get his valve replaced at age 50. During the recovery phase of his surgery he attempted to be a little too active and took up cycling, and almost killed himself in the process. His doctors has to rush in and do a second surgery.
The good news is Arnold is still alive and doing well. His lifelong weightlifting has not killed him, so you too may be able to lift heavy weights and compete in bodybuilding with a heart murmur.
So What Should You Do?
If you have a heart murmur and want to lift weights, talk to your doctor. Lifting weights should not cause a heart murmur for a healthy individual, but it is one of the first things that doctors tell patients to avoid doing if they do have a heart murmur. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you are probably going to be better off taking up a low intensity sport such as cycling.