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Artificial heart valves & shooting

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by ctdonath, Aug 18, 2008.

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  1. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    Now that I'm literally ticking like a watch, I need to know if anyone has any solid information about shooting (everything from .22LR pistol to >.308 rifle) with an artificial heart valve and/or pacemaker.
     
  2. JesseL

    JesseL Member

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    Sounds like a question for your doctor.
     
  3. Clean97GTI

    Clean97GTI Member

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    pacemakers are not bullet proof
     
  4. Dgreno

    Dgreno Member

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    Coming from someone who is actually in the medical field, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR! You can mess some stuff up with the recoil of shotguns and higher power rifles. I know thats not what you want to hear, but keep in mind you will probably be able to shoot some. For the record, I AM NOT A DOCTOR...
     
  5. kingpin008

    kingpin008 Member

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    I'm going to echo the rest of the folks here - I think the most solid information (and if I just had heart surgery done, it'd be the only advice I'd trust) is going to come from your doctor.
     
  6. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    I just wondered if anyone might have anything interesting/useful to add beyond "see your doctor".
     
  7. Norinco982lover

    Norinco982lover Member

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    As a nursing student I have studied the human body greatly. I do not see any reason why shooting would affect your artificial heart valve. You can ask your doctor but I can almost guarantee you that he will shrug his shoulders. If he says no you shouldn't shoot I bet the next doctor would just say sure its fine if you shoot. Unless you are actually holding the buttstock of the rifle against your heart or pacemaker I don't see how the vibrations or occasional jolt to your tissues could harm you. Just keep away from the full autos and you should be fine. Call the doctor, we all want to know what he says!




    p.s. not a doctor.
     
  8. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    My cousin had his done in '92, we went elk hunting in the Salmon River country the following year. As we were making our way up the mountain spaced about a hundred yards apart I could hear his valves clatter from that distance on a clear cold morning. Didn't spook that bull, it was dead on the first shot from his 99 Savage 308.
     
  9. highorder

    highorder Member

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    My wife is a Cardiac ICU nurse that deals with mechanical valve replacement patients frequently.

    We have discussed this issue before and she said that mechanical valves are robust and should handle shock, recoil, and other bumps and jostles with few issues. However, there is a chance that the valve could seperate from the vessel wall and cause sudden cardiac trauma.

    You should see your cardiologist, and seek a second opinion to confirm.
     
  10. swampgator

    swampgator Member

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    Pacemakers are generally implanted in the weakside, because you'll lose a little use of that arm for a few weeks. That being said I did an implant on a left handed person who requested a right side device implant so he could continue to shoot.

    One of the pacemaker reps that I deal with said that shooting a rifle or shotgun could cause truama to the area where the pacemaker leads connect to the device. The wires connect via a set screw in a plastic hub.

    I just talked to the Cardiologist I work with, he said shooting should cause no problem to the valve once everything was healed.
     
  11. OOOXOOO

    OOOXOOO Member

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    My father had a mechanical heart valve put in about 8 years ago. He and I go shooting together and he has experienced no problems. We mainly shoot pistols.
     
  12. Bob R

    Bob R Member

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    My wife's pacemaker is on her right side, just because she shoots left handed. We requested it be implanted on the right and the doc did it.

    bob
     
  13. ants

    ants Member

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    You might get a negative answer, even if the answer is postitive

    When you ask your cardiologist about shooting, you are likely to get a 'No' response if he/she knows nothing about shooting sports. Your doctor is there to save your life, not further your sports interests.

    For perspective, the recoil from shooting a .22 is much milder than the impact from a car accident. Or a fall down the stairs. Or getting hit by a baseball. Or getting mugged in an alley. Or any number of events. Perhaps it is more important to talk to you doctor about all these things, and put shooting in a proper perspective. You'll probably get better advice.
     
  14. Joe Gunns

    Joe Gunns Member

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    I have pacemaker on left side since 2002. Just had it replaced in early July due to battery at "end-of-life." Shoot .375 Ruger and .45-70 from right side with no problems. Doc asked if I was shooter and if I shot right or left before original implant.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  15. RobNDenver

    RobNDenver Member

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    Thread timing

    What a great thread! I am going in next Tuesday to have a mechanical valve replacement and aortic repair. I told my cardiologist that I was upset that I had finally drawn an antelope buck license this year and couldn't use it. He is a hunter and says I will be fine next season. I told him I usually hunt with a 7mm Magnum and he did seem to think that would be a problem for me next year. . .

    I'm telling everyone this is like having the odometer rolled back internally. . .
     
  16. Claude Clay

    Claude Clay Member

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    my dad had triple bypass with a pig valve and defib unit. nothing bothered him~shooting wise anyways. you just dont want to put anything strong electrical/magnitic near the implanted unit(s) or connecting wires.
     
  17. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    If you want to shoot, I'd use a gun not an artificial heart valve (I didn't even know they made a .308 pacemaker <grin>).

    What caliber for pacemaker?

    Sorry, I just couldn't resist.
     
  18. XDShooter07

    XDShooter07 Member

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    another intensive care nurse here. A pacemaker would be one thing because depending on what side it was on you'd be centering the recoil directly over the device. Mechanical heart valves; shouldn't be a problem. Just don't put your stock on your chest and pull the trigger; of course, that'd cause problems for everyone. But as many have said, see your physician first; specifically I would talk to the surgeon that placed the valve, he will know more about the specifics of the valve he placed than anyone.
     
  19. highfive

    highfive Member

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    Well I had a mitral valve replacement last year and right now my only difference in my shooting is that I wear an extra recoil pad in my shotgun and a shoulder pad, but this is just me. I go shooting when I can and like my cardiologist said you can live your life normal as long as you take good care of yourself.

    PM me if you need or want to talk.... is not easy but it can be done
     
  20. tpaw

    tpaw Member

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    The way things are today with mal-practice suits and the cover your a$$ syndrome, I can already hear the doctor saying, "well, there's always the chance that you could etc., etc., etc."
     
  21. HIcarry

    HIcarry Member

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    Talk to your doctor about it...he/she is going to be the best source of info.
    That being said, many patients with prosthetic valves and pacemakers can enjoy a vigorous lifestyle, including shooting. In the early stages of your recovery you may be asked to refrain from some activities to allow the valve to "heal" into the heart, or the lead wires to adequately adhere to the heart muscle.

    I did a quick search of PubMed for any info on shooting sports and pacemakers/artificial valves and could find no articles. A more exhaustive search could reveal different results.

    Good luck.
     
  22. lookn4varmints

    lookn4varmints Member

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    From someone not unfamiliar with the surgical procedure for PM placements, +1 on that comment. The connection between the lead (wire) and the device is quite robust, but who's to guess the min/max gun caliber which may cause damage.

    As a side note, the lead can't be "built-in" to the device. It must have the capability to disconnect from the device because when you're due a replacement because of end-of-battery life, they typically do not replace the lead if you're not having problems. Over time, the end of the lead (the portion in your heart) becomes well-anchored in your tissue and it's best left there if an acceptable cardiac rhythm has been previously established. The ability to connect and disconnect the lead is also important for PM programming purposes during your initial placement. This lead/device connection would be the most vulnerable to gun recoil.

    As previously stated, talk to your doc. If the PM location gives you problems now, it's highly likely it can be relocated later; maybe when you're due for a replacement or beforehand if it is a BIG problem.
     
  23. swampgator

    swampgator Member

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    Not to mention that if it was a single "connected" unit, placement would require surgical implantation of the lead to the epicardium. I'm thinking a thorocotomy to implant the lead with a "tunnel" up the pacemaker pocket. Makes for a hell of a changeout.
     
  24. raveneap

    raveneap Member

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    Last January I had an ICD implanted. (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrilator) which is a defibrilator with a pacemaker. I'd had atrial fibrilation and spent 6 days in the hospital dduring which I got zapped several times. Thankfully, they got it straightened out and my cardiologist strongly suggested an ICD. Before the procedure, I asked him about shooting and if it could be placed on the right side of my chest. (I'm left handed.) He advised that he'd much rather put it on the left as it's closer to the heart and would be a better location. (There are two small electrical leads that go from the device to the heart. I want to keep them happy! :) )End result: he advised that I shouldn't shoot rifles any more but handguns were not a problem. Well, I'm not a heavy rifle shooter, always have preferred handguns so it didn't really bother me that much. But, you know what? If the medical advice was no shooting at all, so be it. I've spent lots of years collecting my firearms and love to shoot but I'm 70 years old and would like to see many more years. There are other precautions too. I can't operate the power lawn mower or the snow blower because the pulses from the engines might reprogram or interfere with the ICD. OK. whatever he says. Again, my top priority is to be around to have priorities.
     
  25. lookn4varmints

    lookn4varmints Member

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    Sir, we hope you see many more years, too.

    Fortunately, ctdonath's pacemaker situation is a little less complicated than yours (less wiring anyway), but certainly he still must be careful and he must be a compliant patient as you are. I hope he can continue to shoot his choice of firearms and I'm glad your device didn't interfere much with your hobby. I know what it's like to have a TOTAL PASSION for firearms and shooting. I'd hate to be told I must give it up. I sometimes wonder if I could give up hunting and shooting should I experience some physically-limiting medical issues that wouldn't leave me totally incapacitated. I love life, but since I have go sometime it might as well be in a tree stand or chasing coyotes. It's a bit easier to have this attitude if you're single as I am.

    Both of you take care of yourselves!
     
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