ICD and altitude

Hi everybody ....I had an ICD inserted 3 months ago with no warning. The Dr admitted me immediately to the hospital after a stress echo and I recieved my ICD the next day.
I have ventricular tachycardia. I also successfully had cardioversion for AF while I was under the anaesthetic. I had no pain or problems and recovered quickly and felt really good.
Some weeks later I began to feel tired and have since discovered that I am in AF again. I am medicated with digoxin and carvedilol and warfarin.
I am hoping to ski at altitude (13,000ft) early next year but had severe trouble doing this last year, before the ICD. Is there a skier out there with my problems ? Will the ICD help ? I forgot to ask the Dr, I had so many other questions on my list!
Thanks Robbie


1 Comments

ICD and altitude

by CathrynB - 2007-06-26 10:06:45

Hi Robbie. Welcome to the Club! I don't have an exact answer for your question, but do have some thoughts on it. I have a PM, not an ICD, and I'm not on any medication, so my experience doesn't parallel yours. But I'm a skier and mountain climber with lots of experience at altitudes up to 14,000 feet. If part of your health issue that led to the ICD includes getting insufficient blood and oxygen to your brain and lungs, then yes the ICD will help. Insufficient oxygen causes problems even at sea level, much less at 13,000 feet. However, with healthy, adequate oxygen intake, almost anyone will still have shortness of breath at 13,000 feet, and possibly headaches, nausea and other signs of altitude sickness, unless you've taken time to acclimatize to the higher elevation. So if you can travel to those higher elevations over a couple days (if you're driving, not flying), or spend a day or two high up before you start skiing, it should help a lot. And inadequate hydration is another big contributor to problems with altitude, so drink lots more water than you normally would and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake if you normally ingest those. Also, I'm sure your doctor told you it's important that you not suffer any "impact" to your ICD, and skiing is one of those sports you should only consider doing if you're a very controlled skier who does not fall frequently -- think of the implications if you "trip" on a small block of ice on the ski run and pitch forward, hitting your ICD with your ski pole. Or more likely, one of those pesky snowboarders who are always so out of control plows into you and knocks you into something hard. So I'd suggest skiing more conservatively than you have in the past and maintaining a very high degree of control, as my doctor suggested to me. Best wishes for getting both the VT and AF under control, and have a great ski trip -- let us know how it goes, okay? Take care, Cathryn

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