Walking and hiking reduce the risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. In the United States alone, every 40 seconds, someone has a heart attack.
Because of this, 2.6 out of 1000 persons have a pacemaker to help their heart contract and pump blood.
While hiking is good for the heart, wearing a pacemaker can limit your physical activities. But that is not the end of your hiking adventure.
The good news is this; you can still go hiking with a pacemaker. Remember to consult your doctor before going on a hiking trip. A few tips like carrying a backpack with medical items, choosing a route that soothes your condition, having a hiking partner, carrying a water bottle, wearing a medical alert ID, and taking short breaks can help.
This article exposes the possibility of still enjoying hikes even if you have a pacemaker. If you use a pacemaker, you’ll know how long to go hiking and where.
Is It Okay to Hike with a Pacemaker?
Hiking or walking is good for the body, especially if you have pacemaker implantation. But for high-level heart diseases, experts recommend you stop hiking completely.
Experts advise patients to avoid strenuous activities during surgery’s first four to six weeks. Below are a few tips to help you go hiking with a pacemaker.
#1. Choose a Hiking Route That is Suitable for You
Not every hiking route will serve you after surgery. So it’s not a matter of “I can do it” or “I used to do it.” Choose a route that is easy and does not put stress on your heart.
It would be best if you built the pace slowly. If you use to go three miles, you can reduce the mileage to 1 or even less a mile.
#2. A Hiking Partner
Always have a hiking partner with you if you are going to hike with a pacemaker. Notify your partner of your health condition before that day.
Point out the medical ID to them just in case a need arises for it. But if you decide to go without a partner, let someone, maybe a family member, know your whereabouts and return time.
But it is generally not advisable to go hiking alone, especially in this condition.
#3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is an important part of hiking, especially for someone with a heart condition. Water helps stabilize your heart when you are tired during hiking.
#4. A Medical Alert ID
Wearing a medical alert ID assists anyone who comes across you in times of emergency. It helps them know your condition and the best way to help you.
It is not compulsory, but it will be a great addition to saving you, especially if you are hiking alone. Wear the ID in a visible spot.
You can decide whether you use a necklace or a bracelet or hang the ID on your backpack.
#5. Carry a Backpack with Relevant Items
Make sure you carry a backpack that carries items like
- Medical alert ID
- Your official ID card for the pacemaker and defibrillator
- A water bottle
- Food like snacks to keep you going
Check if you feel comfortable carrying the backpack before you start hiking.
#6. Take Breaks
Listen to your body and heart. Take short breaks to check your heart rate at intervals. If you need to stop and rest, do not hesitate to do so.
How Long Should I Hike with a Pacemaker?
There is no time frame to go hiking with a pacemaker. How long you should hike with a pacemaker should depend on the individual and how long you have had the implant.
And it also depends on your previous hiking routine. Your doctor will advise you not to do any strenuous activity between the first and fourth weeks after insertion.
Everybody has a different way of reacting to exercise after getting a pacemaker. Only a few people find strenuous activities after pacemaker implantation quite traumatic.
Some people can go longer hiking distances, while others can only go for a 20-minute walk after implants.
Because of this massive variation in how people react to strenuous activities, I’ll advise you to start exercising in bits. Aerobic activities increase heart rate and breathing.
The heart per minute may be between 40-60 bpm. After surgery, the heart might not be able to beat as fast as it should.
#1. Aerobic Activities Tips and Caution
- While beginning (or getting back to your past) program, start with a medium or light exertion.
- Assuming you monitor your heart or pulse rate during exercise, ask your doctor what pulse or heart rate is suitable for you.
- Slowly increase your pace and the time you spend during exercises.
- Warm up and chill when working out.
Below is a table containing hiking do’s and don’ts after pacemaker implantation.
|Obtain a medical device ID card with information about your pacemaker.||Don’t get the incision area wet.|
|Keep your arm at shoulder level to prevent tensing the muscle.||Do not wear tight clothing on the incision during hiking or other activities.|
|Call the doctor if you experience dizziness or breathing problem||Don’t lift heavy objects.|
|Eat and drink normally.||Don’t drive or go hiking until your doctor says so.|
Can Hikers with Pacemakers be Affected by High Altitudes?
High altitudes do not generally affect hikers with pacemakers. But people with pacemakers are susceptible to getting the effects of high altitudes compared to others without pacemakers.
Your ability to thrive in higher altitudes depends on your cardiac condition and how long you spend in environments with high altitudes.
Everyone reacts differently to the environment. So take it easy on yourself, and take your time to relax during the first days of visiting an area with a high altitude.
Try to adapt to the environment before you decide to explore. It is easy to dehydrate in this area because of the dry air. Therefore, always try to stay hydrated at all times.
You can continue having your normal outdoor activities even with an implanted pacemaker.
But since everybody is different, you must be careful of what you do during hiking and how long you go hiking.
Consult your doctor before any hiking trip. Enjoy your hike and do well to take care of yourself.
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