Possible link with Heart Rhythm Problems and Athletes

A very interesting article out of New Zealand linking AF with endurance athletes.


Hamish Carter, winner of the 2004 Athens Olympic triathlon, was diagnosed with afib last year. Other Kiwi athletes to have developed "heart issues" include a rower, a Tour de France cyclist, and a triple Olympic champion. Of course, the list of affected athletes could go on. "Studies have found scarring in the right ventricle of 13 per cent of endurance athletes and estimated veteran athletes may be five times more at risk of atrial fibrillation, Carter's arrhythmia."

"But the Heart article authors, citing recent studies, say there is now evidence that years of asking the heart to pump "massive" volumes of blood for hours at a time can lead to long-term damage and reverse the huge health and life expectancy advantages of moderate aerobic exercise."

2 Replies

  • Yes Tim I think we have known about this for several years. Also of interest is something mentioned about three years ago at Heart Rhythm Congress where one EP told how he treats a number of Her Majesty's fast jet pilots and there the suspicion is that the work they do combating G forces in jet fighters may bring on the same results.

    Personally I have never flown fast jets and the most dangerous sport I have done was fell walking in our Lake District in Cumbria (sadly no more due to knackered knees) but yes, in younger very fit people there is evidence that the training they do may cause them long term harm. Everything in moderation is my motto.


  • I agree with some of BobD's sentiments - I've mentioned before that I'm a 38 year old male who was diagnosed last year with PAF. The EP I see in Leeds, Chris Pepper (who is excellent btw and very reassuring) thinks it's almost certainly linked to my BradyCardia and relativley high level of fitness (running, football, kick boxing, biking etc from the age of about 8) - part of me wishes now that, if i know what i know now, I'd have perhaps tamed the frequency and intensity....my HR drops to around 30 during sleep which is low for sure, but he said that is ok for me as i have a resting HR of between about 45-55 normally.

    The slowness at night and nocturnal 'pauses' unnerves me more than the PAF, but you have to believe and trust these guys. A routine scan I had done in my late 20's showed i had 'mild dilation' in one part of my heart which was probably because of the exercise.

    Everything in moderation is now my motto...although it wasn't for 30 years.

    Thanks, J

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