Skiing/ mountains after a NSTEMI - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
19,108 members13,055 posts

Skiing/ mountains after a NSTEMI


It's that time of year and I am getting itchy feet to go sking, but I I had 1 stent fitted 12 months ago after experiencing unstable angina. Classed as a NSTEMI after the stent intervention. Over the past 12 months I have steadily built my fitness back up to where it was, decent level of mountain walking and cycling.

Not been a easy task but I have a good training buddy who drags me through it all but also stops me doing too much

I train at least twice a week to a decent cardio level and I am free of blood pressure and beta blockers ( BP 113/77 this morning).

I was wondering if anybody else had experienced similar events and then gone back to altitude in summer or winter plus how did they feel with the cold.

I know everyone is built different, suffered differently and then subsequently reacts in a different manner.

I have spent my life in mountains and hope to continue, has anyone successfully managed the sking game after similar events

7 Replies
MichaelJHHeart Star

I am sure people have returned to skiing after HA. The main issues as I see it are altitude and cold. You really need to take to your GP/cardiologist who knows the state of your heart and associated arteries.

Please do reply on Google as there are too many out there posting utter rubbish!

in reply to MichaelJH

Thanks for your reply. I can already see the doctors face as I ask the question. Their view is you are still here,be content to just tick along and just survive. The last cardiologist I saw was a locum who told me I do too much exercise ( he struck as the sort of person who never exercised). Cardio care teams view on exercise, do it properly warm up stay in your comfort zone and then cool down properly, listen to your body which is what I am doing.

If I decide to go to the slopes I intend to follow the warm up up gently by walking and see how it feels if ok progress through to increasing the altitude. I have always had to aclimatiise when going into the Alps my body always told me anyway.

It was pure interest that I asked the question. I have heard of people getting back into running, cycling and hill walking but not sking, which adds cold and altitude. I am wondering whether to wait and attempt a few alpine mountains this summer and find out how they feel first, then possibly test the ski next winter.

MichaelJHHeart Star
in reply to Marco2764

To me you have a plan! Go to altitude this summer and start by walking followed by more intense activity. If there are any issues these will need to be addressed first. My sister went to Peru a few years ago and a number of the group struggled with the altitude some becoming quite unwell.

Kristin1812Heart Star

Slightly related....I was v keen to go to The Galapagos, after heart attacks. But the travel company said they had quite a few heart issues when people arrived at altitude, then ran up the hotel stairs! That little extra altitude, if you hadn’t acclimatised slowly to the bigger altitude change, on arrival, could cause angina symptoms.

Hi Kristin. The Galapagos are fine, it's Quito that's the problem! See if you can get an international flight to Guayaquil instead (you need to go there to get out to the islands). I went about 10 years ago (pre HA) - well worth it :)

I obviously can’t give you specific advice, but a quick resume of my own experiences. Three years past in June, without any previous signs, I also was diagnosed with NSTEMI and with unstable angina becoming more frequent, I had a quadruple CABG in the August.

I have been a lifelong ski fanatic, and after retirement 10 years ago, started a second career as a part time ski instructor at my local dry ski slope. My son is fortunate that her has a small apartment in Austria, so my family decided to pack my Wife and I off for the winter to recuperate, from mid December to April.

All went well until early April when I began to get breathless again. After speaking to my GP at home it was suggested that I increase some of my medication.

This required a visit to the local Austrian GP who packed me off to the local hospital for a checkup. I was given an angiogram and it transpired that 3 of the 4 grafts had failed and closed. They inserted a total of 7 stents in my original arteries, and after a stay in hospital for a few days, we had another couple of weeks in Austria, and returned to the UK.

I have been back to the Alps several times since without any more issues and regularly ski at home in Scotland. I also still continue with my instructing at my local slope. I intend to keep active as long as I can, and just celebrate the fact that medical science is able to keep me enjoying life.

Depending where you are thinking of heading could be a concern for medical insurance cover. I was fortunate that Austria has superb medical facilities, the cost of which is currently covered by the EHIC card system. Not sure if that arrangement will be in place, though, after Brexit!

If you go and feel cold, go inside for a hot chocolate. If you feel breathless, slow down.

Enjoy life.

Hi, thanks for your positive reply. It's good to hear from someone who is willing to grab hold of life and squeeze every bit of it, while you can. Austria was going to be my first go again with it being a bit lower in altitude generally, plus really like their attitude to life there.

I think my most prudent way is to do a summer try out in Austria and see how it feels.

I have done a few 900 plus metre ascents since getting off the meds and all feels good, but I take mountains seriously, even more so now and I want to continue until they nail my feet to the floor. I might go early in summer and try a bit of early morning glacier sking as a tester.

Hope you get a good winter, with plenty of snow

You may also like...