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Patient Power: Exercising with Shortness of Breath
Posted: Mar 11, 2019
Patient Power: Exercising with Shortness of Breath image

We all know that exercise is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially as a myeloma patient. But what if you can barely walk or use the stairs without feeling exhausted or short of breath?

Melanie House, MPT, DPT, NCS says that when it comes to exercising safely as a multiple myeloma patient, we should first consider hemoglobin numbers or the red blood cell count. Red blood cells are the "vehicles" that deliver oxygen to the body. 

Someone with a low red blood cell count (AKA is anemic) would have less oxygen being delivered to the body, therefore feeling much more tired when exercising or even participating in regular everyday activities.

"Bottom line...NO VIGOROUS aerobic exercise while anemic and listen to your body! You could feel short of breath and still show normal range of oxygen saturation (finger probe) because that only estimates how full of oxygen your red blood cells are, meanwhile cancer patients often are living with HALF the normal amount of red blood cells available to deliver oxygen to their muscles. Since the heart is our most important muscle, is important not to over-exert while anemic to prevent cardiac injury." -Melanie House, MPT, DPT, NCS

Melanie said that patients should be cautious and should pay attention to their numbers: 

"...Your heart could suffer the consequences. I've had a patient who actually did induce a heart attack just from walking at a time when their hemoglobin was very low and when their blood pressure was low." --Melanie House, MPT, DPT, NCS.

See the full video on Patient Power.

The author Erika Johnson

about the author
Erika Johnson

Myeloma Crowd Editorial Contributor, Nursing student, and cancer advocate.

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