About

runningin mud

Running in A Fib is Like Running in Mud

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.

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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.

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I strongly encourage comments on this blog. I can only write about my own experience – please share yours.

57 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Running My First Marathon While In Persistent Atrial Fibrillation | A Fib Runner – Distance Running and Mountain Biking With Atrial Fibrillation

  2. Fabulous blog – encouraging for those with A-Fib. My husband, Steve Ryan, is a runner too. He developed A-fib in 1997. He found his cure, a catheter ablation, in Bordeaux France in 1998. He started http://www.A-Fib.com to share what he learned about finding your cure. Last year, we wrote a book. Would you like a copy to read and review? Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure, by Steve S. Ryan, PhD. Email me if interested at: pattijryan(at)a-fib.com.

    • I am in persistent a fib and my cardiologist (electrophysiologist) recommended I try cardioversion at least once, and I did. I was in normal sinus rhythm for 31 days but eventually reverted back to a fib. I think it was a good idea for me and worth a try. I have a blog entry about it here somewhere – there’s even a video of a man being cardioverted.

      • Update.. I had a cardioversion last October and felt GREAT for 10 months.. but now.. IT’S BBBBAAAACCCKKKK, darn it. I have another appointment with my cardiologist tomorrow but I’m leaning now toward “living with it”..

  3. Question – does your heart rate go high sometimes when you are at rest? That is the scary thing for me with my a fib…I ran marathons and 50Ks prior to my a fib. I passed out on the finish line at a trail run and that is how I was diagnosed with a fib. Since then, I have been pretty scared to run. Also, the meds I am on keep my not feeling so great.

    • Hello, Thanks for your comment. My personal experience is that my heart rate stays within normal range. It is still a bit higher than normal, but not much. My cardiologist has not recommended any meds to lower my heart rate. So far – so good. It sounds like you have a fast heart rate – or at least episodes of a fast heart rate. I feel I am very fortunate that I am not on any meds to control my heart rate because I think that would very much limit my ability to run.

  4. Yes, that is correct. Before A fib, my heart rate was normal and even a little slow. Post A Fib, I have had problems controlling the rate. I am on beta blocker and calcium blocker to control the rate and it makes me tired. Now I am headed toward an ablation. I want to get my life back…

    • Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. A beta blocker reduces your maximum heart rate. Twenty years ago, way before I ever had a fib, and before I had my surgery to repair my leaky mitral valve, I was on atenolol (beta blocker) and it significantly lowered my maximum heart rate. Back then I mostly mountain biked and it killed my ability to get up a hill with any type of speed. Most people aren’t athletes and probably NEVER notice this effect of taking a beta blocker – but if you are a runner or cyclist it is devastating.

      • Say JoAnna – if you’d like to write about your experience at the trail run where you actually passed out as a result of the undiagnosed a fib I would love to post it on this blog. How would you feel about being a guest blogger?

  5. I would very much like to write about my experience. I think it would be therapeutic. The worst thing about this condition is the unpredictable nature and how to cope with that. The race was in March and now it is the first of October and I am still processing everything. It takes time. I will work on a blog and maybe you can help me with some editing. I have never blogged before…

      • Hi, again. I wrote my story but put it aside for awhile. It brought up a lot of issues for me. I got an ablation in early November for my A Fib and so far my heart is beating normally! I hope to return to running soon – I am still a little fearful after passing out in the race and being hospitalized for 2.5 days. I will reread the blog post I wrote and send to you soon.

  6. Hi Michael,
    My name is Kathleen Engel and I am an editor at Health Monitor Network in Montvale, NJ. My company publishes guides on various health conditions that are distributed free to patients through doctors’ offices. (You can see our site at healthmonitor.com.)

    I am working on a guide to living with afib and would love to chat with you by phone about your experiences. If you’re willing to be interviewed for a story in the guide, please let me know and we can set up a time at your convenience. I am also happy to send you a PDF or two of other guides we have done, so you see what these look like.

    Thanks, Michael! I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kathleen Engel
    Editor, Health Monitor Network
    KathleenE@healthmonitor.com

    • Hi Kathleen
      I am living right in River Vale NJ.
      I was just diagnosed with A-Fib and Atrial Flutter
      I am an avid cyclist and runner. I do not want to take meds and would prefer to avoid the ablation.
      I predict I have had this condition for a minimum of 5 years and I just never put it together.
      99% of the time it has always been exercised induced. I just thought I was tired, dehydrated or over training.
      It would come on with no predictability. At some point of exertion My h.r. could exceed190 and sometimes even over 200. It would come down but remain over 140. If this would happen during the exercise, normally for the remaining portion of the ride ( more so with cycling than running) I would really never had the power/wattage to keep up with the ride pace.
      I would love the opportunity for any alternative information or help you can provide

      I am still running and cycling
      Phil

      • Hi Phil, of course you want to avoid ablation and medications, but the reality is, in doing so you are exposing yourself to some dangers. While you are exerting yourself, your demand for Oxygen obviously increases and your heart rate increases. The problem with Atrial Fib is that it causes changes in the timing of the Atria and Ventricle contractions which leads to poor blood flow. As this insufficient pumping occurs, there are areas of low blood movement, whenever blood stagnates, it can form a clot. Obviously clots are bad as they cause strokes and other issues. This inefficient pumping action is apparent to you when you feel that you don’t have the power/wattage to keep your desired pace. Because of the risk of clotting is the reason why physicians often prescribe anti-coagulants. I’m personally taking 20mg/day of Rivaroxiban(Xarelto). As heart rate increases so does this inefficiency can increase, so some physicians will also use a Beta Blocker such as Metoprolol. This helps to keep my average heart rate lower, usually under 100bmp, rather than the 220bpm I can see.
        If you are worried about ablations, while there are risks, it does work well. Ihad one in 2003 and will be having another one shortly.

      • Hi Kathleen,
        My original post was from January and your reply was August. I actually had an ablation in April. I had two cardioversions after the ablation along with 6 weeks of amiodarone and 20 mg of Zeralto. Three months later I am happy to report I have been in normal sinus rhythm since May 16 and off all meds. Lets hope that it stays that way. I have resumed all exercise activity

  7. I’ve just read your blog and I can’t tell you how pleased I am – not that you’re in persistent AF, but that you’re a runner with a heart arrythmnia. I honestly thought I was the only one in the world. I have an intermittent arrythmnia which is triggered by exercise.. I first noticed it in December 2012 and eventually saw a cardiologist in March 2013. My 24 hour heart monitor didn’t mention AF, but the cardiologist did. He told me to carry on training as I have been. Shortly after I saw him, things improved and I was back doing my usual interval training. Then in July, it got so I’d only start the most gentle of jogs and it would start. I blamed the hot weather which started at the same time and the only two runs I did free of AF during the summer were when it was a bit cooler. Since September, things have got a little better. I now find that if I do a 13-14 minute mile to begin with, then a 12 minute mile, then 11 minute mile, I can keep the heart under control and after I’ve done 5 miles, I can speed up a bit – but I wouldn’t dare do tempo or interval work. I don’t run 5K’s any more as everyone would have gone home by the time I’ve warmed up. I did manage a slow New York Marathon a month ago and managed to keep the heart in check.
    I get quite down about it sometimes, especially when I have to go so slowly at the start of a run, when my legs, lungs and head are telling me to speed up, However, I know I’m lucky to be able to run even slowly and I try not to look back at old paces. My name is Sue, I’m 57 and I live in London.

  8. I am inspired by your blog. I’ve just been diagnosed with persistent afib and was shocked to get this news I am 56 years old and have done 6 marathons, countless half marathons and 10k races. I also play competitive tennis in usta leagues. My doctor has me taking multaq and eliqus and I feel like its unnecessary because I feel worse taking the meds yet I’m scared not to. How do you know you’re in afib? I couldn’t detect it other than I started getting really exhausted playing tennis and running. The exhaustion was not equal to the exertion. Still struggling to handle this news and how best to deal with it. I’m not a big believer in meds and am more into the body’s ability to heal itself.

    • Thanks for your kind words. It sounds like you are going in and out of a fib. I stay in a fib – I’m not sure but I don’t think I ever go out of it any more. Fortunately I am not very symptomatic and am able to run and bicycle with friends. I recall earlier when I went into a fib I was pretty exhausted and in general didn’t feel well. A couple of time (I now realize) this happened during races and I felt like total crap and did a lot of walking. In a way I’m lucky – I’d hate to feel that way all the time. Distance running is well suited to a fib – more so than tennis. I haven’t tried any sports with anaerobic bursts like that since being in a fib. Good luck, my friend!

  9. Great forum! Long overdue. I wonder if any of your afib suffering correspondents have addressed or attempted to determine what their aerobic threshold heart rate is for training purposes. As a younger man in my 40’s (non-afib) my aerobic rate was about 140bpm (above this rate I was training anaerobically something I had measured via blood lactic acid sampling done on a treadmill in a lab). Now at 67 diagnosed with afib, at a perceived level of exertion equivalent I think to my previous aerobic threshold exertion level, my heart rate is 155-165. But I have no way of knowing if this is truly my aerobic threshold. I wonder if any of your readers have thought about the same problem and how to solve it.

    In other words is there to determine aerobic training thresholds for afib patients? Or is it just a matter of listening to your body and leaving it at that?

    Keep up the great work.

    Gus

  10. Hi Michael,

    I am wondering if you use a heart rate monitor when you run, and if so, how high does your heart rate get, or is it very accurate? I have persistent a-fib (resting HR ~ 85 bpm), and when I go into a light jog, the Garmin monitor I have says that my HR goes to like 190, but I do not feel like its that high. I’m 32 yrs. old, 6’2″ and about 210 lbs. I’ve never been a long-distance runner, but when I was not in a-fib, I could do a 9:00 mile with some decent training, and when I was in a-fib that dropped to probably 12-13 min/mile, but I could do it and feel good about it. I’ve never had an a-fib “attack” that just floored me, just an overall reduction in my abilities, which is why it took me a while to recognize that something was wrong. Anyway, I will be getting an ablation in a few weeks, but in the mean time have a hiking trip and I am debating whether to trust the readings from this monitor or just go with how I feel.

    I’ve really enjoyed the blog! Thanks for writing!

    • Thanks for your comment. I hope your ablation is a success!

      I had open heart surgery twenty years ago to repair a leaky mitral valve. The only bad result I have had is my xiphoid process (the little bone at the bottom of the sternum) now sticks out and bulges in such a way that the band on my heart rate monitor is very uncomfortable. So, no, I don’t use a heart rate monitor.

      I suspect a heart rate monitor doesn’t work when you’re in a fib, because the heart rate is so irregular. I’m not sure how the heart rate monitor works but I think that it measures time between beats, which is highly variable with a fib – so it has trouble nailing an accurate heart rate. I can recall having my heart rate monitor malfunction – just get stuck and blink on 175 or whatever, even after I was done running. I thought the monitor was broken but now I’m guessing I was going into a fib an I just didn’t know it at the time.

    • Matt – I hope your ablation goes well. I had mine 5 weeks ago and other than a few runs of AF in the first 10 days or so (which is to be expected, I’ve been fine. I’m back training with so far, no AF. Please let us know how you get on.

  11. Well, the ablation was done Monday, and I came home Tuesday. The EP said it went well, but had to do more ablating than he thought (about 300 spots/burns). My chest cavity was very sore for a few days and I couldn’t sleep laying flat. That has mostly gone away now, but the catheter entry sites are still quite sore. Hurts to walk for very long. So far, my heart has been in rhythm, although I am getting quite a few “skipped beats,” which are probably PACs or PAVs from what I have read. I am on flecainide for the 3-month healing period, and haven’t noticed any weird side effects.

  12. I have been in persistent AFIB for 12 months now, i have decided to live with it, i run 30 to 40 miles a week, my rest pulse is an uneven 55 can drop to 36, when i run if i don’t warm the heart up can rise to 205 but i keep it at about 190, running definantly helps get the heart more in rythym but i think only because its going so fast, soon drops if i slow down, just run a 5 k in 22 mins and was hilly, last week did a very hilly half marathon in 1 hour 45, i am nearly 59 and have been running since 1982, live in England. I take no pills whatsoever betablockers went straight down the toilet, have been told by the doctor to have the electric shock treatment but giving it a miss as dont want to take the blood thinning drugs as i Mountain race alot and constantly cutting myself so would probably bleed to death!! lol. lost about 2 stone in weight since being afib but that could be due to cycling long distance.

    • Thanks for your kind comment. Our situations have a lot in common except that I am struggling through taking the anticoagulant (all dressed and ready to go on a mountain bike ride {on an actual mountain} as I type), and taking the beta blocker (which slows me to a ridiculous climbing pace – but I think it is actually doing what it is supposed to do). I’d love to hear more from you. If you’d like to write a guest article that’d be great to get a “rebel’s” point of view.

    • Hi i was gutted when i found out recently i had Paf.A fellow mountain runner reduce to flatish local runs etc,
      and live in wales.Intrested how its going now for you Charles
      as i am anti medication.

      regards
      Harry

      • Harry be very careful, your A Fib greatly increases your chances of stroke. Is your personal belief of not taking medications worth the possibility of death, or worse, not being able to care for yourself due to brain injury? The blood thinners have no effect on performance.

  13. Hi Michael. My name is Tim. I had paroxysmal AFib starting in 2002, not recurring until 2007. My only option was an ablation as my resting HR was always in the low 30’s, sometimes upper 20’s. Something my docs missed however was my ventricular rate in AFib was only 50-70 bpm. It has been 4 years since my ablation with no more AFib, just some palpitations now and then. However, I did end up with a pacemaker for Sick Sinus Syndrome. I was an avid runner with a serious cycling problem before all this happened. I completed 9 marathons and countless races of half marathons and shorter distances. Now, with my pacemaker on board to keep my resting heart rate at 45 bpm and to increase it about 115bpm when I exercise I am back to running. Of course I blame most of my declining performance on the aging process but I am running my 3rd ultra this Sunday. I’m waiting for a race to make a “pacemaker” division so I can finally win something!!!

  14. Michael:

    I saw that you commented on my blog and have been meaning to follow up with you. I’m not an endurance athlete by any means but I do have paroxysmal afib and I have always worked out for years. I’m fascinated how you endurance guys can keep up your activity levels while being in afib. When I have an episode, I’m highly symptomatic so I can’t do much of anything other than sit down. As you did with my readers, I encourage your readers to check out my blog as I talk about my experiences with atrial fibrillation and afib in general. My blog is: http://www.livingwithatrialfibrillation.com

    If you are interested, Michael, I would love it if you could do a guest blog post for my blog. If you’re interested, please contact me through my blog or through the email address attached to this comment. I’d also like to connect you with another afib blogger I know who is an endurance runner as well.

    Thanks,

    Travis

  15. Michael:

    I tried to leave a comment and I got an error so I apologize if you’re getting a duplicate comment here as I try this one more time. You left a comment on my blog and I’ve been meaning to follow up with you. I have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation so I’m not in constant afib like you are. When I do have an episode, however, I’m highly symptomatic and can’t do much of anything but sit or stand still. I don’t know how you athletes stay so active while you’re in afib. It’s amazing!

    As you did on my blog, I would like to encourage your readers to check out my blog where
    I write about my own experiences with afib and about atrial fibrillation in general. The blog is:
    http://www.livingwithatrialfibrillation.com

    If you’re interested, I would love it if you could write a guest blog post for my blog. You can contact me through my blog or the email tied to this comment if you’d like to pursue that. I’d also like to connect you with another afib blogger I know who is also an endurance runner.

    Thanks,

    Travis

  16. Michael, thanks for the Blog, like you I am a middle age (concept I am still fighting) athlete and have Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation (diagnosed 3 weeks ago) and am missing running climbing and biking. I am on diltiazem and it works but I go in and out of a-fib quite a bit. As an athlete who always wears a HRM I have discovered a quirk in the HRM’s. When I am out of a-fib HRM works perfect, but in a-fib I find my HRM is off by about 20 to 30 beats bpm as compared to my iphone pulse monitor. I know you are not giving medical advise and all a-fib is different for each person, but you run like I do, do you use a HRM and if so does it record higher when in a-fib? I ask because I am going to slowly start getting back into climbing, then biking to work then running. I want to get an estimate of my “mutant” heart rate when in afib and running especially on the heart rate drug. Curious technical question that NONE of the HRM manufactures will admit due to liability issues.

    • Thanks for your kind words.

      Clearly your heart rate is going to be elevated when you are in a fib. I have suspected, for some time, however, that heart rate monitors are inaccurate when in a fib. I think, but really am not sure, that the HRM estimates heart rate based on the time interval between individual beats. Since that is highly variable while in a fib, basically the HRM is not going to work well.

      I don’t use one because I had open heart surgery over 20 years ago and the band around my chest irritates my xiphoid process ( bottom section of sternum).

  17. I started getting afib attacks several years ago. Recently they started happening every night and I started getting so worried. I also noticed that my prostrate was acting up. I am only 45 so I was thinking that I am too young for all this. I bought a book called “A healthy prostrate in 90 days” and started doing his suggestions straight away. The first thing he recommends is an 8 day fast in which a special lemonade is consumed all day and fiber drinks mixed with bentonite clay are consumed 4 or 5 times per day. By the second night I didn’t have any afib attack, but I noticed when I awoke at 3 a.m. that my heart was doing irregular slow beats. This happened the next two nights. After 5 days of the fast I had no more afib or irregular heart beats. I have been off the fast for 2 weeks now and haven’t had any heart issues. I am so happy and full of optimism now! My prostrate is feeling normal as well. I was so depressed before this. I want to share this with as many people as I can and would love to hear if it helps someone else. One thing I did during the fast that was not mentioned in the book (the book is about the prostrate) is that I took 500mg of hawthorn berry suppliment on the 6th through 8th days of te fast and continue to do that now.

  18. I’m so happy to have found this blog. I’m a 35 year old woman, married with 3 children. Up until may 2013 I was a very fit and healthy person who absolutely loved running, it was a big part of my life, it was something my husband n I enjoyed doing together, it gave me a sense of achievement and as there is heart disease and other health issues within my family I always thought it essential to keep fit. However in may 2013 I collapsed at home and was admitted to hospital, I was found to have AF (I had gone to my gp previous with symptoms but wasn’t taken seriously), to find out that there was something wrong with my heart was devastating. Since then I have not run at all, my cardiologist has said ‘exercise but if you feel breathless stop’. It frightens me and it frightens my husband that I may collapse while out running and it puts me off trying, I think of my children and wonder am I being selfish to even consider going out running incase something happens to me. Like I said it was a huge part of my life and unless you’ve been a runner and had it taken away from you I don’t think you can fully understand how it feels, I’m sure some people think I’m crazy to actually miss something like this so badly!

  19. Hi Michael,

    I am happy to inform you that your blog has made Healthline’s list of the Best Atrial Fibrillation Blogs of 2015! Healthline’s editors carefully selected each winner based on quality, frequency of updates and contribution to the community. You can see the full list here: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-afib-blogs

    We created a badge to help you publicize your achievement: http://www.healthline.com/health/atrial-fibrillation/best-blogs-badge-2015 We encourage you to embed this badge on your site and share your status with your followers.

    Thank you again for providing a great resource to the Atrial Fibrillation community! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Best,

    Nicole

    Nicole Lascurain • Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3130 | e: nicole.lascurain@healthline.com

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
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  20. Hi Michael,

    Thank yo u so much for your blog… it is extremely informative!

    I’m 54 and have been running for 5 years now, peaking with a 50 miler and a full ironman. After taking a year off from racing and just doing about 20 miles/week, I got an Apple Watch for xmas. I had used a Garmin with a strap when I was more competitive and know what my ranges are. And I know my resting HR is around 43.

    I took my new watch on an easy social run and at one point it was feeling tougher than it should have and I saw my HR was in the 170s. I know from past experience that I need to be going close to all out to hit this level, so I thought it was the wrist sensor was just not accurate (which it isn’t that great BTW). So next run 2 days later, I used my garmin and strap and I hit 191! A HR that I’d never seen before. Then 2 days later, I ran again and when I came to a hill about 1 mile in, my HR started to climb, but when I went back down, it didn’t. It was 198. So I turned around and started to walk back and my HR came down to the 130’s (still very high). then I did a little jog and my heart raced to 251!!! So my running buddies made me stop and forced me to see a doctor.

    So, after seeing the doc, I’ve been diagnosed with Atrial flutter. They had me on blood thinnner and a beta blocker (and that just wiped me out). So after giving it serious thought and the fact that I didn’t want to be on drugs, or be limited in my activities, I am scheduled for an Atrial Flutter catheter ablation (less intense than for afib with a 90%+ success rate).

    Now I’m trying to figure out what to do post procedure. It seems like, according to the literature, endurance athletes have about a 50% chance of getting afib after having aflutter. And I’m 6’6″ and digging into the research, because of my height, it appears that I’m 2x-3x more likely to get afib than the general public.

    I know you live with afib. Have you had an ablation for the afib? How hard do you push yourself? Do you know people with aflutter and their experiences? I’m trying to come up with a game plan and believe it’s gonna be hard to curtail my running and biking (swimming is easy to curtail as I only do it so I can be in triathlons 😉 ). Did you wrestle with these questions or know of others that did? It seems like the odds are that I’ll end up in afib at some point whether I curtail or not, so I’m weighing my options of limiting myself to try to avoid the almost inevitable or just plowing forward and when the afib comes get that ablated too.

    • Thanks for your kind comments. I haven’t had an ablation and don’t plan on it because, for my situation, it is unlikely to help. As you stated the likelihood of success for atrial flutter is more favorable, plus you have not been in the arrhythmia for years like I have. I have a friend who has had atrial flutter and he has told me it is quite uncomfortable, as opposed to my a fib, which I barely notice.

      One theory about endurance athletes and a fib is that we tend to train a lot and don’t have adequate recovery which sets up chronic inflammation in the atrium, leading to fibrosis and disruption of the conduction pathways. I’m not sure if this is exactly what happens, but that’s one theory. With that in mind the answer to your question seems to be train but allow rest days or recovery days.

      By the way, if you’d be willing to expand your comment and write about your experience I’d love to have you be a guest blogger for afibrunner. Let me know.

  21. I’m a trail/ ultra runner and I’ve just been diagnosed with A-Fib, after having a scary episode. Trying to get the lay of this new landscape. Where do I start reading/ researching?

  22. At age 65, after 41 years of running, i went into Afib a week ago monday for now a continuous 9 days. my doctor took an ekg and immediately sent my to a cardiologist who told me i was in persistent Afib with arterial flutter, and i am now on a blood thinner scheduled for an electrical cardioversion on november 28th. i have read that since this is my first Afib event, there is about a 50-50 chance of long term success by having it done within first 30 days. i recognize that this may or may not solve my problem long term. may need an ablation down the line. my question is, if the doctor wants to put me on any kind of rhythm medication, is there any that will allow me to still run, or should i just stay on a blood thinner forever and just go back to my running and weightlifting and if i have more afib, just move onto ablation. i have read that the rhythm meds make you feel like a zombie and have lots of side effects that are actually harmful to your heart. Not asking for you to make a medical decision for me, just wanting to know what your personal experience has been with any of these meds…..thanks tom

    • Thanks for your comment. Honestly I have no knowledge regarding antiarrhythmics. I’ve never taken one. Hopefully some other readers will chime in. I can tell you that my experience with beta blockers (carvedilol) is that they take the wind out of my sails but I continue on – slowly!

  23. I had a abaltion in april 2016. So far so good. My surgeon was Dr Vivek Reddy.
    I was on a blood thinner for a short period of time before and after the ablation.
    I was on amiodarone for aprox six weeks as well to help my heart stay in NSR.
    I am 50 years old and exercise daily
    Bike and run

  24. Hi Michael,
    I’m a bit late to this site so not sure if it’s still active?
    I was interested to read your blog. We came across it as my wife has a burning desire to climb Kilimanjaro and reach the top, I’m more it’s the journey than the destination type but fancied going along. My wife was concerned that it might cause me a problem as I am in constant Afib. Such a drag getting the body bag back through customs! There is so much confusing information out there and it seems there is certainly not a one case fits all scenario. I have been in constant Afib for about 5 years now and am approaching the number 1 on the CHAD scale at the age of 65. I am not taking any anticoagulants even though I got a letter from my MD the other day – no words just a prescription for aspirin. This is probably as I asked him does anyone you see exist with this condition without taking any medication and his answer was no! I’m anti medication at all costs but if I really really thought it would help and wasn’t just ‘what the doctor has to do’ then I would.
    I have read research that says in many situations it doesn’t help. What you are always looking for is someone with your exact symptoms, age and lifestyle and then see how they are dealing with it. This site is the closest I have got to that so thanks.
    I feel good. I don’t run anymore though I was never a distance runner just around the park a few times or on holiday early morning whilst the rest of the family slept, that did it for me and I really did enjoy it. I had to stop playing football as my playing mates thought I was going to have a heart attack and being out of breath was no fun. I stopped all sport for a while but now have a routine of a bit of gym work and then several lengths on the pool which really seems to suit me very well. I have been a racquet and football player all of my life but a shoulder injury and more recently the Afib have stopped all that. I used to miss it but not anymore. Love swimming outdoors.
    Not much is mentioned re diet though I have developed a way of eating over the years that started as paleo and then transposed into lots of vegetables, salads and fish with less meat and no milk. Last two years no bread but lately sourdough has crept in to the diet. In general I have found that eating what is good for the microbiome is where it is at for me. My weight is steady and I feel great most of the time. The other biggest contribution to me feeling good is a healthy hydration regime. I have obviously neglected this all my life as whenever I went for a medical they would always say drink more water. It’s only after I developed Afib and actually managed to pass out twice that I put two and two together and made hydration a serious part of my daily routine, sine then I noticed so many benefits. No more passing out if I stand up too fast but also no more dizzy spells which I have experienced all through my life at times. I have a fairly slow heart rate – and still have. So even with continuous Afib I’m still around the 60 mark or less most of the time.
    I have seen two specialists and the results are the same no underlying problem, no plaque, no high blood pressure but constant Afib. The various medical procedures were gone through on a risk reward basis and since I feel good and am in general good health then the risks are not, at this time, worth it. You talk of mild stroke and recovery which sounds a bit scary.
    I would be happy to carry on as I am but I know that I am going to be under increased pressure to take aspirin or some other anticoagulant. I asked silly questions like if I stand on my head for a while each day will that stop any coagulation and other desperate suggestions.

    Can I ask when you started taking anticoagulants? It’s probably in the blog but I missed it. Was there a time when you took none or are there many others on this blog who don’t take any? There are certain foods that help thin the blood but I know they are not as effective as say Aspirin. My hydration regime is what I rely on in general along with the regular exercise. Am I kidding myself and can you feel perfectly fine, look after your diet and still get the dreaded blood clot forming? Like you I don’t really notice the Afib and only monitor it from time to time out of curiosity. All other aspects of my life are normal. I will do Kilimanjaro and don’t expect to have any more problems than most.

    • Hello. Thanks for kind and interesting comment.

      I started anticoagulant (Pradaxa) as soon as I was diagnosed and had a small stroke never the less. If you look at the numbers your chance of stroke is clearly decreased, but never eliminated, if you are anticoagulated no matter what your CHADS2 score is. I recommend aspirin at the very least. As far as diet I can’t figure out what is best but it is important that you remain well hydrated. As for me I am a vegetarian although that’s neither here nor there.

      We did a trek in the Andes while I was in a fib and I did fine, but my xperience may not necessarily apply to others.

      BTW after I had a small stroke while on Pradaxa I was switched to warfarin and aspirin and remain on the combination.

      Best wishes,

      M

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