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doug in co

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went for a bike ride last Monday, and came back feeling quite unwell, chest tight and short of breath. Thought it was just the asthma coming back and used the inhaler, but that made it even worse. My wife heard me panting in the basement and came to see what was happening. I have a pulse oximeter that I used before the asthma was under control, to check on oxygen levels. This also shows the pulse with a visual bar for the heart beat. Tried this and found I had no pulse. A couple of seconds later it showed a heart rate over 200, which I haven't been able to do since I were a young pup..

We went to the ER, wife insisted 😉
Atrial fibrillation and tachycardia, the drugs eventually got it under control. Took a week to get an echocardiogram and the tech wouldn't tell me anything, so now have to wait another week for a cardiologist appointment. In the meantime no caffeine, no alcohol, no strenuous exercise - maybe I won't live forever but it will feel like it .. ha.
This is usually a disease of overindulgence, associated with obesity, diabetes, excessive alcohol, stress, etc. To my surprise I find overindulgence in strenuous exercise has similar effects on the heart. See,

http://www.drjohnm.org/2014/05/exercise-over-indulgence-and-atrial-fibrillation-seeing-the-obvious/

Strenuous exercise has always been my drug of choice..

Other risk factors are being tall, and having sleep apnea. Check and check.

If the echo shows a leaky heart valve, that would cause the afib, as well as explain some of the other lethargy of the last few years. The valve can be fixed in a number of ways including a valve transplant from a pig's heart. If it's not the valve but just the result of years of overindulging myself in running, there aren't many good options. Sometimes an ablation can be done - they go in and cauterize the spots of muscle in the heart that are causing the electrical storms. But this is an exhausting operation and not always successful.
On the plus side, I don't have to take Warfarin (rat poison) yet, as a blood thinner, since all that overindulgence made me otherwise healthy and not at high risk for stroke.
(When the heart goes bonkers like that, the blood can pool up and clot in the heart, from there the clots go direct to the brain).

Also on the plus side, I have many triathlon friends and acquaintances who are already dealing with this. That Monday:
- had three drinks the previous day (Father's) including two glasses of very nice Scotch
- small breakfast and two cups of coffee instead of my usual one, to get through some work crises
- work crises, so I wasn't able to eat lunch or get out for the ride until 3pm
- a hot day in the 90s
- worked from home, where my study is a lot hotter than the office I usually run or ride from
- not enough sleep due to the apnea and various other stresses

They tell me if I live clean and get enough sleep, eat and drink enough water, avoid the heat etc, this can go into remission. So once the cardiologist has a look I'll ask about restarting running..
Nothing I can do about work stress (I need the money) or the other stresses unfortunately. I'm already meditating a couple of hours a day, typically from 3am to 6am when I'm not sleeping, it helps but apparently not quite enough.



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Scary stuff!  Thanks for sharing the article.  "Exercise is our drug." = so true.

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Mrs. Dave (cardiac nurse) had all kinds of questions about this. Mostly, you need to get through the testing phase to see what's really happening. Best of luck.

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No caffeine, no alcohol, no strenuous exercise … that sounds pretty grim to me. I'm sorry you're going through this, but appreciate your sharing your experience. All the best to you and please keep us posted. 

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39 minutes ago, CompulsiveRunner said:

No caffeine, no alcohol, no strenuous exercise … that sounds pretty grim to me.

waking up again every morning is pretty good though 😉

rode my bike a mile or so to a pond down a trail, to go fishing. I thought of a radical idea - maybe I could ride my bike, and not go flat-out all the way ?
Never tried that before.. ha

 

Edited by doug in co

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I hope you are feeling better.   I had heard about Dr John's personal story of having heart problems resulting for excessive bicycling in a interview on the pod cast of the "The Natural Running Network".  I was concerned enough that I ordered his book: " The Haywire Heart", but alas I have had a hard time finishing it as is hard read for me with all the technical detail that he goes into about how the heart is affected by excessive exercise and how the heart responds.

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On 7/13/2020 at 10:25 AM, Run2BFit said:

 I was concerned enough that I ordered his book: " The Haywire Heart", but alas I have had a hard time finishing it ..

the short version is, don't worry too much, this seldom affects runners 😉

mostly what happens is old runners can't keep running due to injury etc so they switch to triathlon or cycling. The problem with these is you need much more time training, than for running. Especially with triathlon, you can train hard every day in a different sport. The upper body gets a rest when it's bike or run, the lower body gets a rest when it's swim day, biking uses muscles differently than running so even there the legs get a bit of a rest - but the heart never gets a rest..
It's a kind of overuse injury really.

Cardiologist cleared me to start gentle exercise again. I've never tried gentle exercise before. Ha.

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