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Had surgical repair of coronary artery fistula. Will my athletic endeavors be limited? Blood pressure is normal

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Cardiologist, Interventional
Practicing since : 1996
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I have just had a surgical repair of a coronary artery fistula that began on the right coronary artery and terminated in the right ventricle. I have been an athlete all my life. Will my athletic endeavors be limited? I am a 52 year old male, never smoked and have remained in relatively good physical condition. After the surgical repair, I had some Afib for a day or two, but that has subsided completely. I hope to be able to return to competitive sports when I have fully recovered. My blood pressure is excellent, resting heart rate of 72. It has been 3 weeks since my surgery. I have no abnormal pressures, no enlargement or heart muscle damage.
Posted Thu, 19 Apr 2012 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Answered by Dr. Raja Sekhar Varma 5 hours later

Thank you for your query.

I understand that you are convalescing from surgery for a coronary-cameral fistula. From the details that you have given, it appears that the surgery has been a success.

In view of the excellent physical fitness levels that you have maintained and absence of any other medical problems, it is likely that you will have an excellent long term prognosis.

You will have to plan your return to athletic activities over a period of time. A structured rehabilitation program will definitely help. It will have to be individualized. It is difficult to give an accurate time frame.

The main issue will be the union of the sternum (assuming that the surgery was done by a midline sternotomy approach). This could vary from 2 to 4 months. You should not be lifting heavy weights during this period.

It is unlikely that there will be any cardiac or lung issues. There could be some limitation of vital capacity and peak exercise capacity as a result of the disease/surgery, but only time can tell about the exact degree of disability. Age is also a factor and it may be unrealistic to expect the fitness levels you enjoyed at 21 years of age.

Another issue is that you should probably restrict yourself to those events that do not entail a direct risk of trauma to the chest.

I am sure that you will achieve your goal if you proceed systematically with commitment and effort.

I hope this answers your query. Feel free to contact me for any further clarifications.

With regards,
Dr RS Varma
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