I’m currently at home recovering from a catheter ablation. Sadly I developed an infection/fever which kicked the heart back into A Fib. So step 1 is to get it back into sinus before thinking about training, but hey I can start to plan!!
I’m 51 and would class myself as pretty fit, I’ve done various sports all my life, field hockey, and various other sports inc gym classes etc.
About 5 years ago I started doing more serious cycling and longer and longer distances even doing the UK Coast to Coast in a day 250km ride in 2014. All was good, if I look back at that ride my max HR was 186bpm at the top of a renowned climb called Hardknotts Pass.
However during 2018 I noticed my monitor sometimes reading HR over 200. Despite no other symptoms something wasn’t right so I got checked out, inc a day with an ECG. That diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation but only under extremes of exercise, and with no other symptoms and no discomfort the agreement was to do nothing, but keep an eye on it.
Over time it got worse and I noticed myself out of breath when simply walking my dogs, an elevated HR of 165 bpm at the easiest of jogs, and went back for further tests. I wore the ECG for 3 days and concluded I was now in permanent A Fib. I’d continued to train, but trained wisely with a coach, so easy days were easy and I’d perhaps do 3 hours of very hard work spread over a week.
I also started doing triathlon at the age of 50, so I was no longer doing the long 6 hour bike rides, more shorter stuff, and adding in running and swimming.
Due to my age and my low resting HR, we decided an ablation was best. I had the op on Thurs 7th Feb, it took longer than expected, the consultant had to cardiovert me 6 times and after he’d fixed the A Fib on the left he found flutter in the right so also fixed that.
All was good, stayed in sinus all night in the hospital and I tested at home the day I was discharged and was still in sinus. Then I started shivering uncontrollably around 9pm, rang the hospital who told me to ring 999 and get to A&E! I was tested by the ambulance who said I was back in A Fib and had a fever with a temp of 38.3
I stayed 2 nights back in hospital and was discharged again on Sunday, a phone call yesterday said they’d found signs of an infection on the chest X Ray so I am now on antibiotics. My temp appears normal.
Now I’ve read the Haywire Heart book and done plenty of googling, it’s clear that there is mounting evidence that endurance sports do seem to enlarge the heart which could potentially cause these electrical issues that lead to A Fib. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% convinced that it is purely down to that, and would like to see and read more research.
I’m back to see the consultant next week to agree my next steps.
However I do enjoy exercise, I intend to carry on playing competitive hockey, that doesn’t seem to make my HR peak even with A Fib.
The reading and research I’ve done says I can continue to exercise once the heart is sorted, but I should cut back, which I am fine with doing. Exercise for me is important, but a gentle ride or jog in the countryside is going to be fine.
What I’m not clear on is it “long” endurance work that stresses the heart and causes the long term issues or would short high intensity workouts cause similiar issues?
The consultants I speak to say they see this a lot in marathon runners as an example.
Sorry for the long winded post, but I’m keen to hear from others who have had similiar and returned to regular exercise.
What did you do before, and what did you do after?
Did you change anything?
Is anyone out there still competing, ie 10km runs, Triathlon etc?
I’m wondering whether a TR low volume plan might be something to aim for if I decide a full on coach is over the top?
Finally some things I’ve found useful.
I bought the Kardia ECG monitor and that has been very useful in keeping an eye on if I am in or out of A Fib, and my consultant and another one has said they agree with it’s accuracy.
This is the book I referred to: The Haywire Heart: How too much exercise can kill you, and what you can do to protect your heart
Learn more: amazon.co.uk/dp/1937715884/…
and some more research I read (which I think is also referred to in the book)