British Heart Foundation

Am I Being Irresponsible

Am I Being Irresponsible

There was a news report recently from the Lake District. The mountain rescue were moaning about the amount of call outs recently. To many to cope with as many of the volunteers found it difficult to take the time off to take the call outs. Many call outs were for unprepared walkers, under equipped for the Lakeland mountains. Usually the cause of the problem was navigation or lack of it, using mobile phones as the only source of navigating. The other problem was bad health.

Which brings me to ask am I being irresponsible walking on the Lake District hills with heart failure? I usually walk alone so am I being extra irresponsible? Or does it mean I have to confine myself to the lower fells?

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Hello Howard,

It would depend on a few things, how bad is your heart failure, how fit are you, do you know how to navigate, are you used to hill walking, can you read and understand a map, do you go prepared for bad weather and do you carry a mobile which has or can get signal there?

Regards

Mark

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Thanks for your reply

I know the navigation is important but my question was aimed more at the health issues. My heart failure is NYclass 1 which is the first stage and means fitness wise I can pretty much do what I could before I got the heart failure. But if I do too much I suffer with fatigue for quite a few days after and I can't now do consecutive days walking. But I never gave the responsible question much thought. I have walked in Nepal and know that I can never do that again. I suppose I will have to re-think my position and stick to walking the lower routes.

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In that case I wouldn't avoid them altogether

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Just my personal opinion , but if it was me and I walked alone I would stick to the lower levels, you are still getting the walk and exercise, and easy to reach if anything happens.

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Thanks for your reply

I think your right I will probably have too stick to the lower routes. It's just that seeing the news item made me think am I being responsible.

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I think if you feel your good too do it do it your sensible too know your limits ..

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Hmmm, I think this is a difficult call.

I suspect that because of your experience you are less of a Mountain Rescue call out risk than many walking in the hills.

I, like you, love hill walking and consider it an important part of my fitness regime. I have a different heart condition (an unstented blockage and Angiospasm) and listen to my body in term of whether and when I walk. If I am feeling less than 100% I walk on lower ground with a friend but if I feel realiy well I will venture further and higher. Usually, but not always, with a friend. I am always fully kitted up, and ensure my daughter has details if where I am. I also have an App on my phone which details my full medical history.

She is also fully aware that I would much rather die out on the hills at a relatively young age, than spend 10-15 years of old age in a Nursing Home with Dementia.

Perhaps I now need to revisit my walking to decide if I am an uneccessary risk to Mountain Rescue..

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Howard,

You have touched on my dilemma exactly. My story starts 15 months ago when I was stung by a wasp in my boot, 20 minutes later I staggered into a pub in a village said I needed help and keeled over. Not knowing it was a sting I was treated for heart attack and rushed to AandE. That turned out to be anaphylactic shock. In October this year I did have a heart attack and now have a stent. My problem is I do, or did, 3 miles min and sometimes 10 miles a day walking and have been very competitive at sport all my life. When I raise my love of an active life looking for guidance, I have been lectured more than once about at risk behaviour.

Since the attack I have only walked 4.5 mile routes twice and those are on tracks and paths with access to them. I crave a ten miler where I might see one or two people in the distance, but so far I have opted for the safe option.

Good luck whatever the choice.

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It's a really interesting question. I wouldn't say you were being irresponsible. A walker's health is just one of many options they should factor in when making a decision about when/where/if to walk. You probably wouldn't set out if the weather was likely to be treacherous, similarly you wouldn't set out if you knew you were not feeling great. I think it would be really sad if your heart condition were to stop you pursuing this heart-healthy activity that you enjoy. And I suspect mountain rescue volunteers would be much happier about having to rescue you than having to rescue someone who has not worn appropriate clothing for the weather, let's say. I think as long as you are honest with yourself about how you feel and take your health condition into account in your risk assessment, you should carry on doing what you love. It sounds to me like you would be a very responsible walker anyway, but maybe you just need to think about some added safety features, like the app Carokai mentioned, for example. Good luck and let us know what you decide :)

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I was born with heart disease and I’ve always gone on walking holidays. We used to enjoy snowdinia in wales and me and my gdad used to walk up the hills and mountains with our dog. I was bought up scared of exciseise so it can be done. On holiday was the onli time I used to be physically active as a kid/teen.

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Yes I agree with all above. Just check with your Gp first, purely on the alltetude and isolation factor.

If he or she thinks you are strong enough, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't do it.

As well as the medical app, just incase of signal or weather. I would also write medical history and medication down on a small bit of paper to go in your wallet etc. Good idea to wrap in waterproof bag. Medical tags are also a great accessory.

Always have some kind of high visibility, water, whistle, torch, head torch, waterproofs, plenty of warm layers that you can take off or add. Chocolate, yeast extracts , you know like marmite. See if you can get a silver blanket from pharmacy. They fold up small. Always take spare Meds, small basic first aid kit .

Always let someone know your intentions when partisipating isolated walks. That goes for anyone doing country or hill walks. You don't have to have an existing medical condition to be vulnerable against life's unexpected it's a sensible action to take.

If you feel family or friends would be of no use or you have no next of kin. Then let a neighbour know roughly where you are going and a time they should be concerned if you have not contacted them.

Good idea to contact local mounting rescue team just to make them aware of your intentions that day. Prep, prep, prep...

This is something you are used to, so you know the dos and don'ts.

But now you have to think a little differently. All sounds like a lot, but it's not, all commonsense stuff really.

Apart from all that, the world is stil your oyster, happy days! You carry on living life to the full.

Ha, a dog with a bone is a great accessory & companion if you're up for it.....He or she could keep you warm.

Look just be honest with yourself, if you are strong enough, then go, go, go........

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Not much advice, but maybe advertise for a buddy to walk with you. There must be hundreds of hill walkers around the UK. Look for local groups where you want to walk and explain to them they may be able to help. At least this way if something was to happen there would be someone to get help or even assist you.

Try using a treadmill at your local gym and raise the hill levels on the machine with the help of one the trainers this can help establish a starting point for you

Don't give up do what you enjoy unless you have to.

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Thanks for all the comments and advice. I will probably still continue up the high fells but maybe draw a line under expeditions and stick to shorter five or six miles, straight up and down. I think you do have to try and carry on as near normal as you can with hobbies or work or you'll end up sat at home all day with negative thoughts.

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