Heart Transplant Patient Represents Country in Triathlon

After years of waiting, Patricia Fonseca from Brazil has undergone a heart transplant. And after several months of recovery Patricia represented her country at the XX1 Malaga-Spain World Transplant Games 2017.  The event she entered is the triathlon; swimming, cycling and running her way to a medal.

Because of her inspirational story she has been interviewed by the Brazilian TV channel, Globo. Her six-minute interview has been broadcast on prime time TV, and we are fortunate enough to also be able to view it.

During the interview Patricia talks about her experience, from a little girl to where she is now, after her transplant. The video shows her in hospital after her operation. She appears very frail. But the clinical team around her help her to improve her health and fitness.

Heart transplant patient performs breathing training in recovery

During recovery Patricia is provided with the Respiron flow-based lung trainer by POWERbreathe. She uses it to exercise her lung muscles by encouraging controlled, long, slow, deep and focused breathing. It helps to maintain lung capacity and function after periods of inactivity.

Patricia is also provided with a POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device. This is to help improve the breathing strength and stamina of her breathing muscles. And in turn this reduces breathing fatigue and helps Patricia to improve her respiratory system. This breathing muscle training will also help prepare Patricia for the demands of a triathlon.

Benefits of IMT in triathlon

During triathlon Patricia's lungs will be subjected to huge demands in each of the three endurance disciplines.

During the swimming stage of the triathlon, Patricia will need to inhale as much oxygen as possible in the shortest time possible. This will help her return to the optimal position for generating propulsive force.

During the cycling stage of the triathlon, the very nature of the hunched position on the bike creates breathing problems. It restricts normal breathing movement and will make breathing feel much harder.

Finally, during the running stage of the triathlon, Patricia's breathing muscles will not only be working hard at their job of breathing, but they will also be working hard to stabilise her upper body during every foot strike.

Triathlon results post-transplant

The effort and commitment by Patricia Fonseca and her team of professionals in helping her through recovery and training was rewarded with a podium finish by Patricia who won a medal!

Congratulations Patricia!

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