Living with AVM and fitness training

I recently had Gamma-Knife after my brain AVM bled. While still dealing with the effects of the AVM, treatment, medication changes and side effects I have found some stress relief in my routine using my love for fitness and body building. My doctors had me scared of my own shadow initially but I have come to realize I have to keep living and take care of myself. I know no one in my life that has any been through this. So I am asking here… Are there any ill effects from weight training, running, ect., aside from the quiet nagging of what if I go down on this treadmill?


I believe the concern of many doctors is the flucation of blood pressure that exercise will cause. From my experience I believe they would like for my blood pressure to stay as stable as possible. Walking is the most I’ve ever gotten any doctor to allow. That said, we’re all different and unique, have a long talk with your doctor.


Thank you Kim. I have talked with them and I took away to be cautious of over exertion but no clear answers about diet or exercise and the benefits or lack of. Seems the doctors first think liability then of my well being because when I ask about these things I hear, use caution and don’t do anything unattended…but don’t stop living. I have had to seek a lot of information on my own. When you put it that way I can see the need to keep the blood pressure steady.
I hope you are doing well.


Yes, it is quite unfortunate that is todays culture a doctor must first and foremost protect himself from litigation. It really does put them in a corner, tie their hands and put them at odds with the basics of their profession.

I hope you are doing well also. :slight_smile:


Hi Holly! I know how frustrating it is to be thrown out of your usual routine like that!

Everyone is different and if your doctors have told you to take it really easy then I’d follow their advice. That said, I had my first consulatation with a neurosurgeon on Wednesday and he said that as long as my blood pressure doesn’t get too high (he advised me to get a monitor to check) then I can keep running and even do half marathons.

Maybe your doctors would approve of something gentle like yoga?

Thanks for your response Tempestas.

I do yoga once a week in addition to 5 days weight training and a few days of cardio. The doctors are so vague with me and don’t seem to know that much more than I do.

Have you learned anything regarding diet and nutrient intake that may be helpful?

I didn’t have a bleed, but I had Gamma Knife in June for my AVM & a craniotomy in July to deal with the aneurysms caused by the AVM. I’ll have GK again in December. My surgeon told me to go ahead & continue dancing. I am being careful, though. I bellydance, and my troupe is currently learning to spin poi, so I’m being careful with my poi & trying not to bonk myself in the head too much. (I managed to hit myself directly on my scar last weekend, so I am limiting which moves I’m working on for now.) One of our new routines also has zaar (trance dance), and I’m limiting how much head tossing I’m doing.

One of my internet buddies (we know each other through Akitas sites) is a competitive body builder (her stress relief from going to vet school & working as a groomer at a vet’s office). She had a bleed (I’m not sure if it was an AVM or aneurysm) in early August. She had embolization for hers. She is already back at the gym, with ok from her docs. She started with light cardio & is working up to doing more.

Hi Heidi, I just had CyberKnife back in June after my AVM bleed in FEB and going back to the gym is one thing that I’ve had too much fear to do yet was always a great stress release for me. The only tihng my doctors have told me to refrain from was lifting anything over my head due to the hypertension that it can cause. So, I’m back playing golf yet have not had the inner strength to go back to the gym even for cardio. I think this in part has so to do with the fact that I had my AVM bleed after leaving the gym back in FEB so I’ve stayed away since then yet my doctors have told me that I am able to do anything that I was doing before learning of this AVM. One of these days soon, when we’re AVM FREE, we’ll both be back at the gym :))!


Glad to hear you and your friend are not letting your AVMs hold you back! I needed to hear others were doing things too. Thank you. :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing. I hope you are back to the gym soon and we are all AVM free sooner than later!

Nope, I’m afraid not! I was so nervous before meeting the neurologist, I think there were lots of things I forgot to ask about.

There are so many questions to ask. Every time I come home I kick myself knowing I forgot something. I joke with the secretary that we are bff’s I call so much!

Hi Holly

My son, aged 8, had a bleed from AVM in April this year, followed by embolisation and craniotomy. Within a couple of weeks we had him at the park near the hospital kicking a ball around. He is football crazy and all he wanted to know from the doctors was when he could go back to playing competitive football for his team. The surgeon advised him to wait for 6 weeks till he’d had his follow up angiogram, as the haemorrhage happened just after he’d been practicing headers in football practice, so there was some doubt as to whether this had caused it.
But he was still running round playing football in the garden, never still! After the angio, approx 8 weeks after the bleed, he was told to go back to a full life, all sports ok except boxing.
My heart is still in my mouth everytime he plays, I havn’t managed to get past that and don’t know if I ever will, but its what he needs to do to be happy.
I’d go along with the advice to not exercise alone, just take it steady and listen to your body. Let us know how you get on

Your story and your son’s spirit is inspirational. As a mom with a healthy active son I can say every time my son went on the football field was nerve wracking never mind after something like what you’ve been through. Your strength is admirable! Sounds like he is doing amazing! :slight_smile:
As for me you are right, moderation, patience and a workout buddy are a wise idea. I have trouble not pushing myself but I have to keep things in perspective and remember I will be back and better than ever in due time.
Thank you so much for sharing!


Unfortunately I have to admit that when I collapsed with my stroke it was in the gym doing an intense leg workout, the paramedics took my blood pressure which was soooo high, did this cause my hemorrhage? the Drs would not commit to saying it was heavy weight training that caused the bleed just as they would not commit to saying my training and health had helped my not passing to the other side, my bleed was so large it should have been my end.
At the end of the day I have been Bodybuilding since I was 17 yrs old, lifted many excessive weights, felt sick, passed out, sent my blood pressure soaring with my resistance training yet I still managed to train intensley for another 16 years before this happened. I suppose I was like a ticking time bomb and I was not aware that i even had an AVM(prob better i didnt), I even went up to 265lb in bodyweight back in my heavy training days yet still nothing happened.
I 'm only assuming through time my vessels had held together until that fateful day, when they would take no more and screamed out, hey, we’ve had enough, we can take no more!!Did my training nearly kill me, did it also save me??? No one will commit to answer that, the brain and medicine is still so unknown it is so hard to define certainty’s.
I would firstly discuss with a specialist, not your regular GP, perhaps find some parameters, wear a heart rate monitor, perhaps stay in your lower heart rate threshold and not push too high, keep any resistance training at the lower end, choose a weight where you could lift more reps than too few, so you would not be placing too much stress on vessels, regularly check your blood pressure, I would check mine every week, just so i know, i even went as far as placing it all on a graph, thats how sad i am! generally my blood pressure has always been very good, never anything to worry about. you and your body the bet place to gauge, if it feels heavy or strenuous dont do it, if it involves a lengthy period of time where your heart rate is high, just be careful, watch that heart rate but as i said i would first consult a specialist.
There is also the question of fate but then that opens up a whole new discussion. How can i go for such a long period of time lifting such extremities , pushing myself to the limit, i still ask myself, why that day, why then, i had lifted so much heavier back in my early twenties and had no probs???
take care whatever you do!!

Had this conversation again with my neurologist tonight. Interestingly enough she jokingly said just don’t go straining to lift 3x your weight. Not exactly a straight answer. I asked her also about my interval training and elevated heart rate danger and her answer was someone of your age shouldn’t worry too much about that. I’m still having too many symptoms she can’t explain so I am going to try hard as it may be to work lighter weight/more reps boring as that may be. Also not give up cardio but maybe just not do HIIT for a while. I feel the way you do with what effects my fitness levels have had as I have been weight training and running for so long. I have to beleive the better idea of living a healthy life style is a better alternative to gallons of icecream and soap operas on the sofa forever. :wink:

your so right, do they ever give straight answers, i suppose it is very difficult for them to do that but it is very difficult for us too as sometimes we dont know where we stand. I was told it may not be a good idea to go back to heavy weight training incase the scrring in my brain bleeds again. well so far so good for me, am i just plain stupid for pushing myself and going against drs orders?? im not sure. i have to say though i wouldnt reccommewnd it to anyone else though from a professional point of view and at the end of the day i would have to refer my own clients to a dr for their clearance, its just with myself, i take it as it comes and deal with it when i need to.
all the training i did last year for my comp was high rep, high inensity, i too hated high reps but now i find it so challenging and very painful to perform. and for people to say that you cant build muscle using high reps, well thats crap, i did it last year, all be it i did not have the same muscle depth but i still gained enough lean tissue naturally to get on stage. and yes the lifestyle is much better anyways. i have got right into jump rope recently, doing 1min intesive skip witha 30 sec rest repeat 20-25 times, changing my skipping style each time.not as intensive as hit but still a great workout.

Glad to know you made some gains from high reps. I’m trying but not feeling the same pump. Already this week I am bored. When I see results I will feel better. I guess if they won’t tell us yes or no with some confidence we might as well do what we enjoy and hope for the best.