It turns out atrial fibrillation is pretty common in middle-aged endurance athletes. I went into persistent atrial fibrillation in April of 2012 and was surprised to find out how common it was in athletes, but also surprised to find out there weren’t a lot of resources on the web other than a single report here and there. I am writing this blog in order to provide information about atrial fibrillation for athletes from an athlete’s point of view only.
My purpose is not to give medical advice. I am a podiatrist employed at Klamath Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Clinic in Klamath Falls, Oregon (I also work part time at the Klamath Tribal Health and Wellness Center in Chiloquin, Oregon on a diabetic foot care grant) – my podiatry practice is limited to the treatment of the foot and ankle – not the heart. Cardiology is not in my scope of practice.
I am Michael McCullough, a 53-year-old distance runner and mountain biker living in Klamath Falls, Oregon, who is in persistent atrial fibrillation – meaning that I do not go in and out of atrial fibrillation, like some athletes; but that I’m in atrial fibrillation all the time and I’m not expected to ever be out of atrial fibrillation. I am more or less asymptomatic, except for palpitations and, of course, a slower pace, and do not take any specific treatment except for a blood thinner (Pradaxa).
I continue to enjoy marathoning, trail running, mountain biking, hiking, and any other outdoor activity for that matter. I am not sure how many marathons I have completed, but probably around fifteen. I have trained for two 50K runs, but was only able to run one of them. I was discouraged to participate in my first 50K by my electrophysiologist (more on that later). That was before he actually saw me as a patient.
My recent events include the Vancouver USA Marathon, the Peterson Ridge Rumble, a 20 mile trail run in Sisters, Oregon (that allows dogs!), Lake of the Woods 15K, and the SOB Trail Run. Upcoming events include Bizz Johnson 50K in October.
I strongly encourage comments on this blog. I can only write about my own experience – please share yours.