Hiking With An AVM

Hi all,

23(M) living in the north of the UK, I have previously shared my story on a small brain AVM that caused a bleed at the start of 2022, I have been through Gamma Knife and on my journey to recovery.

Speaking with my consultants they said to live my life as normal now but maybe avoid the below:

  • Rollercoasters
  • Contact Sports
  • Heavy Drinking
  • High Altitudes

All of the above are fine with me I’ve gave up on certain sports such as football and swapped it for golf.

My question is that I am quite a keen hiker and haven’t gone up any mountains since my bleed, I wondered if anyone has any advice or in a similar situation.

I know they mentioned don’t do high altitudes but could I get away with ascending 1000ft to climb Ben Nevis or anything in the peak district.

The only thing that puts me off is that the day before my bleed, I climbed Mam Tor but I don’t think it was related!

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Ben Nevis is about 1300 metres above sea level, not 1000ft but it seems insignificant to me.

Air pressure in an aeroplane is equivalent to about 6000-8000ft (1800-2400m) so as long as you’re allowed to fly, you should be good. I don’t know of anyone here who has been advised not to fly.

Hope this helps.

Personally, I think it is important to fit into life the things that you enjoy. I should think that being up a mountain carries a risk associated with how long it might take to get back off the mountain and to hospital if you feel unwell but there may well be aerial routes for such occasions in the UK. If the people you’re travelling with know to be alert and to report how urgently you may need care, then you’re in as safe hands as possible.

These are my thoughts.



Thanks Richard, yeah in a nice way the doctors couldn’t care less if I flew or not and saw it would pose no risk. A great point a bout the the altitude when flying

I’ve never known anyone to be told not to fly. I’m guessing your risk will come down as your gamma knife takes hold. I’m pretty sure that @memyselfandeye has regular nose bleeds and I think had a big nosebleed on the way to or from Canada, so this stuff can happen but I can’t see UK mountains being a big risk.

You prompted me to look up what sort of air pressure is achieved in a commercial aircraft, so it is a useful comparator that I’m sure others will find helpful. I also wondered how much the pressure up such a small mountain would vary compared to the usual variations you live through nearer to sea level. I didn’t finish looking at that but we could have a look.

I think part of your armoury is to make sure those around you know you have a risk and to be honest with yourself if you feel unwell. There’s often an unspoken pressure to keep quiet or to tough things out but those are the wrong motivations where a possible stroke is concerned.

Any further thoughts, just say. I’m happy to investigate with you.


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Hi Gooders, I’m truly glad you’re on the road to recovery. As far as hiking in the UK, those are pretty much hills (to us snobby hikers in the U.S.A.) I’d say just make sure to bring a cell phone and a friend if possible. Bring water, trail mix and take frequent small breaks. In other words, act like you’re a beginning hiker until you feel comfortable again. (Disclaimer-- I’m not a doc so don’t listen to me if your doc says contrary.) Best wishes, Greg

Hi Greg, great to hear from you and I hope you are well, yes completely envious of the hikes possible in the USA and admit the walks available to me must look like a mole hill to you haha.

Thanks for your comment really appreciate the advice, Wishing you all the best

I have a large AVM which bled in 2019 and I also had gamma knife, still waiting for results. I ski at every opportunity but I wear a helmet and am more careful than before. I was never told not to go up in the mountains but was advised not to scuba dive at depth. I don’t think there is strong evidence to preclude any particular activity and people with AVMs can usually life normally. I wouldn’t do anything that was obviously a major strain like lifting very heavy objects or anything else that makes you strain excessively. My neurosurgeon did advise moderation in all things which I try to stick to. Stress is the thing I try to avoid the most. Walking in the mountains is probably both good exercise and good stress relief!

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One thing I meant to add - aneurysms usually bleed under conditions where blood pressure is raised, and rarely bleed while asleep. AVMs on the other hand can bleed when you are lying on the sofa. This was what my neuro told me. Staying hydrated (but not excessively so) is important according to every neuro I spoke to. I was dehydrated and running when I had my bleed. So I do everything I used to do, including the running, but I don’t run at 100% and I always ensure that I am well hydrated. I’ve had no problems (touch wood!) since my bleed 3.5 yrs ago.

Good luck.