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It's Share with You Sunday!

Have you been looking for a way to give back to the community? Are you interested in participating in a study that will hopefully create parameters for exercise in those who have had an aortic dissection?

Check out the following research study (Which is now located in 3 states across the US!)

Community member Jack Crowe was lucky enough to have recently participated and shares shares his first-hand experience below:

"Cardiologists are recruiting for aortic dissection survivors to participate in the first year long study on the effect of exercise on physical and mental health. Last week I found out what it is like to participate in that study. I drove ten hours from my cabin in the faraway Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I had been snow shoeing to Ann Arbor, Michigan home of the University of Michigan Wolverines and a world class medical center, including an aorta center. Led by the University of Texas at Houston, University of Michigan and Washington University at St. Louis are jointly participating in the study. I drove to a University of Michigan Hospital outpatient center where it is conducting the study. Driving all that way to participate in an exercise study sounds like a long way to go but my daughter lives in Ann Arbor so I got to visit her, and as an aortic dissection survivor who laments the absence of much sound science on exercise for survivors, I feel a personal stake in the outcome. Christine from the University was waiting for me and introduced me to Lauren who is also administrating. Michigan’s goal is to sign up forty-two people in the study, a tall order. Aortic dissection is relatively rare. Survivors are more rare. And people willing to travel to Michigan (or Houston or St. Louis) twice during twelve months and do particular exercises for a year as part of a study are rarer still. The randomization process placed me in the study and not in the control group. It’s important to note that those in the control group, who will come back in a year without the benefit of the exercise program, also serve. Without a control group there is no benchmark. I answered a series of questions on my dissection, which I expected, and also questions about my mental health and levels of pain and energy, which I did not. I have to admit that two years post dissection I deal with a fair amount of upper back pain, and my energy level, while improved from immediately post dissection, is not what it was pre-dissection. That said, I get a lot of exercise, mostly walking, up to around fifteen hours a week. Lauren and Christine fitted me with a blood pressure cuff which was my companion for the next twenty four hours, measuring my BP at thirty minute intervals. They brought me to the fitness center where a cardiac fitness instructor took me through a round of exercises, including a cycling warm up, wall sitting, arm curling with a 10 pound weight, hand strength test, leg raise, and an uphill treadmill jog, all while taking blood pressure readings.

Any spikes of systolic BP above 160 and I would be excluded from the study. Mine stayed mostly in the 110’s or lower. I will repeat these exercises three to five times a week for a year, and then return to Ann Arbor to see if there is any improvement in my blood pressure and mental health. A hope is that more sedentary dissection survivors will begin to exercise as part of the study and see benefits mentally and physically after a year of steady, albeit modest, exercise. For me the biggest takeaway was being introduced to the RPE scale (*see below), the Rate of Perceived Exhaustion. It considers exertion on a scale of one to ten, one being hardly any exertion and 10 being the maximum possible exertion. In the middle is moderate activity (able to carry on a conversation) and vigorous activity (short of breath but can speak a sentence).

Here is link to a short video by Dr. Siddharth Prakash, from the University of Texas explaining the study."

*Remember, this blog post is for informational purposes only. Please discuss participating in any research study with you personal physician.

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