What is the risk to my heart?: First time... - AF Association

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What is the risk to my heart?


First time post.

I've been diagnosed with permanent AF and cardiologist has told me that I will have an ablation to sort out this 'nuisance'. (Age 45, non-smoker/drinker, no underlying heart problems according to echo-scan).

My question is...what is the risk to me if I push myself physically? Could I seriously damage my heart whilst waiting for my ablation? Is heart failure a possibility?

9 Replies

Hi Bigplantpot and welcome

I understand your overall concern, but most doctors are now saying well actually nothing, as long as your resting heart rate is not too high, they say over 120, personally I would say over 100 then the damage to your heart is minimal.

Certainly heart failure would not be likely, however my understanding is there is some risk of cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart muscles, but even that seems to not be certain and different people seem to report different results.

I am also in persistent AF, constant like you, and I too worry about this, but with virtually no symptoms currently other than the AF I am not yet considering ablation.

Be well


I still go to the gym but well powered down on what I normally do or did...I take flecanide while waiting for consultation for ablation my heart is structurally normal in all other ways but I was told to not go berserk physically until I've seen the electro physiologist....in June....I don't smoke or drink either..but as I can't stand being AF...I don't encourage any triggers...the after effects for me from exercise used to come at night in my sleep..I know this doesn't give you a clear answer but just my current experience......

I push myself all the time and have not got worse. But I am well anti coagulated. The thing is though, your heart won't let you push yourself too much as it will let you know.

I have been told that exercise is good as long as you are not symptomatic and to watch your heart rate, in my case it was to not exceed 112, but I had PAF so when in episode I couldn't walk, never mind anything else so no danger for me. It could be dangerous to continue to push yourself if you have symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, muscle fatigue as this would indicate that you are exceeding your body's and your heart's ability to keep up with fully oxygenating your body. I do know of someone who did ignore their symptoms, they went into heart failure and unfortunately died. I must stress that they were very young and thought they were invincible, refused to take any treatment for AF, pushed themselves beyond their body's capability and refused all cautions from informed people.

If in doubt take the advice of your specialist and a specialised fitness trainer with training in heart disrythmias.

A sensible approach is best- you will know if your body feels you are over-doing the exercise and just keep to a steady pace and not overdo it to be safe

(I'm 51, have perm AF, no other symptoms - diagnosed about 4 years ago) I was told to carry on and that exercise was OK. I have been on beta blockers and thinners but now am on nothing. Specialists says there's no problem. My heart rate is about 90-100/min. I would question why you have to have an ablation, though form what I have seen on this forum and elsewhere there are as many therapies as there are patients.

Hi Omniscient1

Have I got this right, you have perm AF but are not on any anticoagulants?

According to the "experts" stroke risk is much higher for AF sufferers and so I would say you could be taking a considerable gamble. What type of specialist have you seen.



Omniscient1 in reply to Blooto

Hi Blooto

I started on Bisoprolol (B-blocker) with an increasing dosage to try and manage my rhythm back to normal. A heart specialist in the nearest city after some scans said the dose could be reduced to the smallest as it was having no effect and to stop aspirin due to risk of bleeding. I commented to my GP (who regardless wanted to keep me on a thinner so swapped me to Clopidogrel) that as the Bisoprolol was having no effect the only efficacious thing was the blood thinning to help with the stroke prevention, which the consultant wanted me to come off anyway. Soon after I was called into a Stroke Clinic (not just AF sufferers at this) and saw someone - who is an AF specialist (part of AF Assoc) who advised that for me there was low stroke risk - so leave off the anti-platelet meds and as I had no other symptoms (apart from irregular heart beat) there was no point in taking the B-blockers as they made me tired. So on his advice - which my GP bought into completely - I am prescription free at the moment. Though I keep on this forum and made them promise I could go back every couple of years for an ECG. I'm happy with this, but the fact that there is no consistent strategy in the NHS is a concern.

I am also in permanent AF and saw my cardio just 2 weeks ago for a check. I now also have the possibility of having a valve replaced later this year due to mitral regurgitation. However, my cardio advises it is ok for me to exercise as much and as hard as I wish but, of course, always listening to my body. My exercise comprises walking, cycling and very strenuous badminton for 2 hours a week. I can get puffed very quickly with the badminton but mostly recover easily enough between games. The hardest thing I find is walking up hills but I can manage 10 miles or more of average terrain walking in a day at a 3mph speed. Incidentally, I am old enough to hold a bus pass.

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