Outdoor activities are becoming increasingly popular and some schools regularly organise trips to outdoor activity centres.
Popular outdoor activities include: kayaking, rock-climbing, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, white-water rafting, hill walking and caving.
Each planned activity must be considered separately and should be discussed with specialists in your cardiac centre before taking part.
Go through these questions with your cardiologist before signing up for any new activities
1. How physically demanding will the activity be?
If necessary can the activity be planned or adapted to make it easier for me to take part?
2. Will the activity cause intense emotions?
Outdoor pursuits can be very exciting; however, intense excitement or anxiety can cause a substantial increase in blood pressure and heart rate. For some people with a heart condition, particularly those with a rhythm disorder, such activities might not be safe.
3. Is there a risk of cuts or scrapes?
If I’m on blood-thinning or anti-coagulant medication can the risk be suitably minimised by appropriate protective clothing?
4. Will the activity cause pressure or impacts to an ICD/ pacemaker?
E.g. climbing harnesses and rucksacks have a chest strap which may press against the area where the device is implanted. Activities such as potholing or caving may involve crawling on your front, potentially putting pressure in the area around the device.
Sometimes you can prevent the strap of a bag pressing on your defibrillator by protecting the skin with a pad. You can buy specially designed protectors that can help with this. Examples which can be bought include http://www.vitalbeat.me/pacemaker-protection/ and http://store.paceguard.com/Youths-Shirt-051.h
5. Will there be plenty of opportunities to re-hydrate?
6. How long will the activity last?
Is it longer and more intense than activities I’m used to doing?