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Tips on Weightlifting with Vascular Disease

Aug 13, 2022 10:46:18 AM Dr. Scott A. Sundick
Tips on Weightlifting with Vascular Disease

Most patients diagnosed with a vascular condition are ready to resume their daily routine. But, diving back into your exercise routine may put you at risk of complications.

However, there are still ways to exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle while taking preventive measures all while being monitored by the doctor. Here are some weightlifting guidelines for patients with fistula and aneurysm conditions:

Weightlifting with a Fistula in Your Arm

Fistulas are used for dialysis treatment. A fistula is made by connecting an artery directly to a vein under the skin in your arm. This is done through a small operation. A graft is made by connecting a synthetic tube between an artery and a vein. 

Patients with a fistula in their arm should avoid carrying heavy things that may apply more pressure on the affected arm. You shouldn't lift a weight of over 10 lb. with the arm that has a fistula. However, research shows that the fistula arm can lift weights under 6 lbs.

Weightlifting with an Aortic Aneurysm 

When your body's main aorta in the chest forms a weakened area, and the vessel widens considerably, you are diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. Aneurysms grow gradually and can be hard to detect since they remain tiny after starting small. Managing the condition includes continual monitoring as well as maintaining blood pressure and heart rate control, which is why many patients should avoid doing anything strenuous like lifting weights.

Patients with a thoracic aortic aneurysm don’t have to stop weightlifting altogether. There are various guidelines that you should follow to avoid fatal complications. Here are some guides for lifting weights for aneurysm patients:

Guideline #1: You Shouldn't Lift Over 40 lbs.

If you have some weightlifting experience, lifting weight less than 40lbs results in little straining and limited pressure on the aortic root. A patient without weightlifting training should avoid such strain by lifting loads less than 30lbs.

Guideline #2: Recently Diagnosed Vascular Condition Patients Shouldn't Lift More than 10 Pounds

If you're highly trained but recently diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm or have a fistula, you should avoid lifting anything weighing more than 10 lbs. Patients with an aneurysm should be able to comfortably lift 10 lbs. or less weight without triggering aortic dissection, a tear in the aorta wall.   

Guideline #3: Vascular Disease Patients Should Avoid Frequent Weightlifting 

Many medical practitioners administer weightlifting restrictions to avoid any complications. Too much weightlifting activity without proper supervision may cause the heart to work harder and cause relapses or complications. Getting back into exercising slowly and cautiously is the key.

Bottom Line

Along with aerobic exercises, weightlifting can be beneficial for people with vascular conditions.

The benefits of weight training include:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased bone density
  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Increased endurance (to a somewhat lesser extent than with aerobic exercise)

Weightlifting guidelines mainly aim at managing a patient's blood pressure so you are not putting too much pressure on your aneurysm. You should always consult a professional to monitor your vascular disease and general health.

As always, please feel free to reach out to our vascular physicians to consult about your specific exercise routines as it relates to vascular disease.

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