Exercise and Physical Activity with an LVAD
Golfing, gardening, walking— they’re just a few of the many activities LVAD patients enjoy. In fact, physical activity is an important part of your recovery from surgery and your ongoing health and wellbeing—whether it’s structured exercise or just enjoying your favorite pastimes. You may even find that you’re able to be more active with your LVAD than you were before.
You will, however, need to be careful to protect your LVAD driveline and controller. You’ll also need to be careful not to push yourself too hard. Follow your VAD team’s recommendations and guidelines, and if you feel pain, or if you start to feel dizzy or short of breath during any activity, stop.
During Your Recovery
Right after your surgery, your nurses and physical therapist(s) will help you gradually rebuild your strength, stamina and independence. They’ll give you exercises to do on your own, both in the hospital and when you’re at home. They’ll also give you guidelines on what kinds of activities and exercise you should and shouldn’t do, and strategies for safely building your endurance.
For the first six weeks after your surgery, you’ll need to be careful to protect your sternum (also called the breastbone) so it can heal.
What You Can and Can’t Do
If you’re not sure about whether or not an activity is safe, ask your LVAD team. Every patient is different, and VAD centers have different guidelines about what patients should and shouldn’t do.
All LVAD patients are told to avoid:
- Contact Sports — Soccer, basketball, martial arts, hockey or any other sport that involves contact with other players.
- Activities with a High Risk of Injury / Falls — Downhill skiing, horseback riding, rollerblading, etc.
- Water Sports — This includes swimming, diving, snorkeling, etc. Your device equipment cannot be submerged in water.