Famous Athletes with Atrial Fibrillation

Famous Athletes with Atrial Fibrillation

This quick article is presented here just so you don’t feel you are all alone with your athlete’s heart in atrial fibrillation (AF).

This article from Everyday Health, which you may have already seen, reveals nine well known athletes who had AF.

1.) Billie Jean King, the iconic tennis hero, went into AF in 2015 and had a successful ablation. “Today, King says she continues to eat well and exercise, and she’s teamed up with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to educate patients about their afib-related stroke risk.”

2.) Basketball legend Larry Bird evidently had AF symptoms while he was playing (tachycardia, lightheadedness, disorientation) but never reported it to his team physician. After he retired in 1992 he was formally diagnosed with AF, which the article states he now has “under control.” (Whatever that means)

3.) Canadian professional triathlete Karsten Madsen was diagnosed with AF in 2010 and was successfully cardioverted, and reportedly continues to compete.

4.) World Class tennis pro Mardy Fish dropped out of the 2013 French Open with a mystery illness later diagnosed as AF, and treated with ablation. I’m not sure if he continued to play, but he is currently retired from tennis.

2014, Tour de France, tappa 10 Mulhouse – La Planche des Belles Filles, Belkin 2014, Trek Factory 2014, Mollema Bauke, Zubeldia Agirre Haimar, La Planche des Belles Filles

5.) Spanish pro road cyclist Haimar Zubeldia was sidelined for three months with AF, but with rest and treatment he was able to return to competitive cycling and finished sixth overall in the Tour de France that same year. Wow!

6.) Olympic rower Nicola Coles (New Zealand) developed AF weeks before the Beijing Olympics, and was cardioverted.  Because many common AF treatment drugs are banned  for Olympic athletes her treatment options were limited and she ended up using magnesium and fish oil to control her symptoms. her symptoms did not recur and she competed in Beijing with her teammate and they finished fifth. She subsequently retired from competition.

7.) US astronaut Deke Slayton, one of the original Mercury program astronauts was diagnosed with AF; but he continued with his astronaut training program. In 1970 he had his AF under control and was reinstated to full flight status and eventually was able to pilot the first Apollo Docking Module for the Apollo Soyuz Project. 

8.) Eight time Olympic champion canoe racer Brigit Fischer was diagnosed with AF and forced to drop her plans of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics at the age of fifty:

Though she believed she was in better shape than in her last Olympic comeback, Fischer admitted that being told she had atrial fibrillation confirmed her suspicions that something was wrong. Already the most decorated Olympian in German history and only the third woman to win at least eight gold medals, Fischer decided her health was more important than another medal. 

9.) Fourteen time NBA All-Star Jerry West played with AF symptoms believing them to be panic attacks. He was eventually was diagnosed with AF, was cardioverted, but continued to have to deal with AF.

If that isn’t enough you can check out this site:

53 best Celebrities with A-Fib images on Pinterest  Although I haven’t really taken a long look at this site, and can’t attest to it’s accuracy it’s oddly comforting to think that we’re not only in the same boat as folks above, but also with people like Gene Simmons and Barry Manilow.



4 thoughts on “Famous Athletes with Atrial Fibrillation

  1. Pingback: Guest Blogger Adam Durnham – 5 Athletes that have Atrial Fibrillation | A Fib Runner – Distance Running and Mountain Biking With Atrial Fibrillation

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