Sternal precautions are intended to prevent complications after median sternotomy, but little data exist to support the consensus recommendations. To better characterize the forces on the sternum that can occur during everyday events, we conducted a prospective nonrandomized study of 41 healthy volunteers that evaluated the force exerted during bench press resistance exercise and while sneezing. A balloon-tipped esophageal catheter, inserted through the subject's nose and advanced into the thoracic cavity, was used to measure the intrathoracic pressure differential during the study activities. After the 1 repetition maximum (1-RM) was assessed, the subject performed the bench press at the following intensities, first with controlled breathing and then with the Valsalva maneuver: 40% of 1-RM (low), 70% of 1-RM (moderate), and 1-RM (high). Next, various nasal irritants were used to induce a sneeze. The forces on the sternum were calculated according to a cylindrical model, and a 2-tailed paired t test was used to compare the mean force exerted during a sneeze with the mean force exerted during each of the 6 bench press exercises. No statistically significant difference was found between the mean force from a sneeze (41.0 kg) and the mean total force exerted during moderate-intensity bench press exercise with breathing (41.4 kg). In conclusion, current guidelines and recommendations limit patient activity after a median sternotomy. Because these patients can repeatedly withstand a sneeze, our study indicates that they can withstand the forces from more strenuous activities than are currently allowed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine