How long before returning to training after heart attack?

Hi all. Newbie here.

I’ve been training BJJ and MMA for the last two years and had a heart attack exactly four weeks ago after a BJJ class. Thought I was developing a nut allergy for a few weeks with breathing issues and indigestion until I couldn’t breath after class and felt like I still had the 300lb gorilla on my chest. This time it wasn’t after eating so I realised something else was going on. Managed to get to ER while the heart attacks gradually increased and had stents in and finding I was 99% blocked.

I felt instantly better after the op (like a new man), but have kept to the docs instructions for the last month by sticking to walking and gradually increasing it with light workouts. I’ve taken my diet down as clean as it can get (no caffeine, sugar, salt, sat fat etc) and am basically a rabbit now. Trouble is I’m feeling way better than I have in years, want to get back to training, but the doc is saying no way while I’m on blood thinners - which will be for the next year.

I know he’s got to tell me this, and I know I probably should quit BJJ per his instructions, but I’ve tried explaining that in order to avoid another stress induced heart attack, I’d like to get back to the one thing in my life that helps me manage stress. So….question for anyone who might have been here before….

  1. Is it possible to get back to light rolling if I’m on thinners?
  2. If so, when?

I’m feeling the best I have in years, but am clawing the walls here with a grappling dummy who never talks to me (or ever taps out)!

Thanks for putting up with the lengthy explanation, but any advice would be appreciated!

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Instead of listening to your doctor you came here to get told what you want to hear.
Listen to your fucking doctor


While I have nothing for you as it relates to training again, I would suggest you look into some breathing exercises. I’ve recently found inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my nose while humming to be highly beneficial for some of the crazy shit I’m dealing with these days. There are studies that show an increase in nitric oxide from doing so.


I think you should be contemplating on what type of person is teaching you if they allow you to step back on the mat in any capacity four weeks after almost dropping dead on their mat. The legal repercussions alone would be enough for me to let you know that I appreciate your will to learn but your not going to be dying on any of my mats.

It is a serious question you need to be able to ask yourself if learning bjj is worth dying for. Personally i would let you go and try to steer you into living a better, healthier lifestyle. Your money isnt worth me having to explain in court how i let a guy who had a 99% blockage that caused a heart attack back on my mats.


Calm Down Take It Easy GIF by O&O, Inc

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I have a friend who had a heart attack at 34 after a jiu jitsu session. It wasn’t diagnosed right away (ER sent him away the first time…) so he had more heart tissue that died because of it. Due to the damage he had a defribulator put in. He would roll super light but one time he rolled too hard and it went off. After that he had permanent A-fib and ultimately required a heart transplant at 36.

I would make sure to take it easy and listen to your physician. I would really try to get into cardiac rehabilitation, they will be better about helping you retrain your heart and have a realistic plan.

When you do get back to training I would wear a chest HR monitor as well to have more objective data on how hard you can push your heart.


All good inputs. Thanks everyone. Defo planning on taking it easy until (and if) I ever get a green light to go back on the mats again. Watercolours and surfing for me for a while.

I have been on and off blood thinners for about two years (currently on apixaban) due to recurring afib episodes.

I still train and teach several times a week with my cardiologists knowledge and approval.