Sudden Heart Attack

I’m a long-time TrainerRoad user, as a Triathlete and Quadrathlete I train somewhere between 12-20 hours a week with much of the cycling portion on TR as it’s the most time effective way. I was the V40s European Triathlon champion in 2013, placed in the top 10 in the world champs in 2014 and 2015 then changed to Quadrathlon where I won the V40s British Trophy series in my first year, won the overall series the following year and last year won the V40s trophy series again. I eat healthily, I don’t smoke and never have, I only drink very occasionally and then only a single beer. I was, I thought in perfect health.

However, a couple of weeks ago after a morning of training, I had a shower and then had a massive heart attack. Totally out of the blue. It took 5 hours to get me to hospital, all the while I was in agony, working as hard to breathe and stay conscious as I would towards the end of a ramp test and of course I was scared shitless. Once at hospital the angiogram showed that my right coronary artery was 100% blocked so the right side of my heart had been starved of its blood supply for at least 5 hours. They removed the clot and inserted two stents. After a few days in hospital I was sent home to re-evaluate my life.

I won’t go into the mental side of things as that way lies self-pity, but needless to say I’m not feeling great and haven’t yet come to terms with it. No one knows yet what the long term prognosis will be as that depends on the amount of permanent damage. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to train again. Just running or riding etc might be a problem. As you can imagine it’s all been quite a shock and there was no warning at all. In hindsight there was an anomalous HR spike on my morning run that day but as I was using a watch based optical HR monitor rather than a chest strap I assumed it was just a recording error. It was reading 189bpm whereas my usual HR at that pace would have been c.140bpm and my max is 174bpm.

The consultants have said that all the training I’d been doing over the years had led to athletic cardiac hypertrophy. This adds mechanical stress to the coronary arteries in the form of shearing stresses. This can lead to small micro-tears in the artery walls. Clots form on these tears to repair them and that causes a blockage. I always thought the exercise was good for me but it looks as though I was doing myself a disservice. There are of course genetics and posssibly stress at play too.

I’m not sure why I’m sharing this here, but take it easy out there and make the most of every day. You never know what is around the corner. I have no idea what’s next for me but I’m keeping my TR subscription going for now - I can’t use it for at least 3 months apparently but once I can it should be the perfect tool for allowing me to exercise at closely monitored specific intensities. They will of course be depressing, sadly low intensities but that will be better than nothing.

Al.

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I’m so sorry to hear this. Life just isn’t fair.

I’ve had self diagnosed episodes of AF (appears to run in the family) which ruin me mentally. Taking magnesium appears to help the worst of it, or maybe it’s just a mental crutch. I wondered if I’d done some sort of atrophy in getting from ‘active’ to 4.9 w/kg in 2 years.

Anyway, nothing I can say that will help, just sending good vibes and solidarity.

Take care

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Ouf man, tough story. Even though we can’t really do much for you, I indeed hope that sharing this was helpful. Keep up the good spirit.

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For some reason, I imagine that the mental recovery is going to be the most difficult part of your journey.

You’ve achieved some brilliant results within your discipline and your lifestyle choices would lead most folks to believe that you’re damn near bulletproof. Truth be told, until something does happen, we never really know the stresses and strains our bodies are under. I’m just happy in the knowledge that you’re still able to write your message. I bet your friends and family feel the same.

Hoping that you recover well :+1:

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Very sorry to hear of your experience but super pleased to also hear you are Ok and now thinking about the future, as that is in itself a positive step.

Trust in your physicians and the process they will get you to follow, focus on recovery and well-being and then slowly begin to evaluate and plan what you can do, rather than what you can’t do compared to the past.

In some ways (perhaps ironically) your high level of fitness may have contributed to your survival - imagine having the same experience but being 50lbs overweight and having no Cv fitness and never having experienced the intense breathing etc before.

You’ve had a horrible experience but have come through it so everything from now on is a real bonus.

Best of luck :+1:t2:

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That is harsh and hope your recovery goes really well. Is there a way to monitor this sort of damage to ensure the event doesn’t happen again post-recovery?

I have follow ups with the cardiologist - echocardiograms will indicate how much permanent damage there has been and I’ll push for an ECG exercise stress test to give me an idea of what I can and can’t do once the initial healing has taken place. I’ll also feel more comfortable pushing myself whilst under supervision (and with a defib nearby) rather than doing so on my own. At the moment it’s still very raw so just being at home knowing that the Cath Lab is so far away is pretty scary, doing anything strenuous terrifies me!! I might try to get a CT Angiogram done as well just to see how the other coronary arteries are faring.

I’m on shed loads of medications at the moment which will need regular reviews as well. As a data-driven ‘type A’ athlete I always thought I was in control, but clearly none of us ever are.

I haven’t given up hope of at least being able to get back to something resembling normal but things are pretty uncertain at the moment. I haven’t even considered a e-bike yet and certainly not a set of golf clubs!! Only time will tell, and the cardiac rehab team have said it’s nothing but gentle walks for 3 months and then they’ll reassess after an echocardiogram. I’m going to do exactly as they say.

Al.

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Sorry to hear about your experience but so happy you’re with us. Incredible feat to keep going for so many hours post the attack.

Someone in my family was diagnosed widened artery walls (aneurysm) and whilst it seems to have widened with age it’s also somewhat genetic. At the moment the person is cleared by doctors to keep active but unfortunately limited to walks and garden work. Hopefully your doctors can give you guidance on what’s appropriate in your case to avoid any risks - I don’t think anyone incl myself should be giving you advice here.

On a positive note, regardless of what level of activity you’ll be cleared to return to, remember you’ve got an incredible base to resume from. You’ve accomplished feats many of us would only dream of. There’s more to life!

Take care of yourself and I wish you a good recovery

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eBike sounds like a plan though - could end up having more fun cycling than ever before :wink:

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I’m really sorry to hear this….massive changes in our health are never easy to adjust to, especially since we view ourselves as engaging in a healthy lifestyle.

If it helps any, one of my local riding buddies had a “widow maker” heart attack abiut 6 or 7 years ago. He is every bit as strong now as he was back then (and he is a beast with a ~320w FTP). Obviously you’ll need to work closely with your docs, but there is some hope you can train again.

Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

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Sorry to hear about this, wishing you a speedy recovery.

What I can never understand, why do we not get our bodies checked out every now and again? We take our cars for an MOT every 12 months, but how many people actually go and pay for their internal organ health to be checked?

I know detailed health checks can cost a lot of money but life is priceless.

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Don’t worry, I won’t be following advice from people here even if they try to give it. I’m not really sure why I’m sharing this, but I wasn’t looking for advice - maybe sharing it and hearing from people who understand the importance of training in our lives helps me come terms with it somehow.

Hopefully I’ll be sharing more positive stories of recovery progress over the coming months as well.

Al.

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I had been to the docs once or twice over the past 10 years with chest pains. They did ECG’s, said everything was OK and dismissed it as a muscular injury. Maybe it was, but now I’m thinking it was probably more than that and could have been early warning signs.

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320watts FTP will do me any day - especially at my current weight of 65kg!! :slight_smile:

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Makes me wonder if the issue could have been diagnosed at that time? When ever I have been to the doctors in England I generally feel like I am being a nuisance.

Maybe further investigation by your doctor could have helped.

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I guess there’s a lesson there for everyone - if you have any health concerns then get it checked and don’t always believe the first opinion you get. It’s hard to be pushy especially when you know the NHS is stretched to it limits but you might not get another chance.

Al.

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Sorry to hear about your shocking experience, I imagine sharing helps a little.

Your post reminded me of a friend who had a sudden heart attack last year and ended up with a stent or two (not sure exactly). Early 40s, very active (competitive tennis, cycling, golf etc) - just like that.

The good news in his case: He’s basically fine, started working out slowly after a few months, nowadays doing all the things he did before, just advised to avoid max HR efforts. No more ramp tests for him…

I hope your health will recover in a similar fashion and wish you all the best!

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Oh man, sorry to hear that. But…you are here! The fact that you survived and you’re waking up to the next day is a miracle. You may need to let cycling go - at least for a while - until you get back on your feet and understand the long term impact.

Hang in there.

Really feel for you, I was involved in an RTA in 2015 whilst out training, chest impact followed by a CA, I was saved at the road side by a passing Dr, I was lucky!

Whilst in hospital it was discovered I had a miniscule scar on the heart muscle and enlarged left ventricle as a by product of 30+ years of endurance training (Athletic heart Syndrome), I did have totally clear arteries though as a result of all the training, so I was told.

They were not sure if it was the scar that caused a short in control impulses to the chambers (VF) and then the CA or the crash but edged towards the CA happening on the bike, then me crashing. (my gps trace from the head unit shows me wobbling all over the road for a while before I came to a halt)

I thought my life was over, with no hope of a normal life let alone cycling or running. I had a very good cardiologist who after doing multiple tests stated that other than the scarring, there was nothing wrong and was 99% sure it would not occur again, he fitted me with an ICD and told me to get on with whatever I wanted, over 40k on the bike since and have never been stronger.

If you can, please ride your bike, getting back on mine was what saved me from a very dark place, its very hard going from what we do, to being told you may not be able to, fingers crossed for you and your recovery.

All the best

Simon

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Sorry to read that and I wish you all the best but life has a habit of throwing a curve ball. In 2017 I won our club championship (admittedly the best TTer concentrated on opens and the 2nd best broke his collar bone) but I was 42years old weighed circa 65kg, don’t smoke, barely drink (during lock down it was 15months between). In circa April’ish 2018 I started to suffer badly from chronic fatigue. I put that down at first to overtraining. But after completing the LEJOG (admittedly on two days my mates wisely forced me into the support car) and September sportive with a close mate; I finally went to see the doc who did a simple blood test. I’m not medically trained but I think 135 parts of iron in your blood is normal, 35 parts is worrying and 15 parts or below is catastrophic. I was 12 parts iron :open_mouth: I got a panicky call from the doc telling me this and asking me to make a urgent appointment. They commissioned urgent tests which all came back negative. Phew I thought, it must have been Overtraining afterall and my vegetarian diet causing the lack of iron; so I switched back to more meat. But unbeknown to me there was one more test and it had been caught up in the NHS backlog. It didn’t appear to March 2019 by which time the major symptoms were starting to appear also and the test found it Bowel (Colon) cancer. It was whipped out in April 2019 and I subsequently had chemo but thankfully it ended circa 5months before this other wee c thing. I am back to full strength now and going better than I was in 2017 but at just 45years now it was the last thing I was expecting. I went through the why me too but at the end of the day I consoled myself with the fact that if its in your genes there’s nothing you can do about it but being fit helps you through it/ survive it. Good Luck :+1:

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