In a quandary

Just been diagnosed with afib. I'm 69 years old and in relatively good health. I'm an avid biker and swimmer. The afib has been causing me lots of problems with swimming. I've had issues on the bike as of late. This seems to be getting worse. I'm currently seeing an electrocardiologist and am wearing a halter monitor.My next visit back to the doctor is the end of November. This condition has turned my life around. They have me on blood thinners. Don't know where this is all heading. I've gone from being really active to waiting for the next shoe to drop. I guess I'm just wanting to know will I be able to lead an active lifestyle after this?

22 Replies

  • Hi Paulh

    I am in unison with you with being in a quandary and so can only offer some knowing of how you are feeling as I have just put a similar post on here. It is life changing especially when you have been active. I don't know what the answer is to it. I hope others on here can give us some glimpse that it will get better. The good thing is now you know you are not alone.

  • Hi Paul, and welcome to the forum. I'm soon to be 68 and was diagnosed back in June, so I have an understanding of what you are going through. It sounds as if you are getting good medical advice, anti-coagulants are very important! You will get lots of help and support from forum members and the "volunteers" are especially helpful. AF seems to affect folk in so many different ways and it is important that you read as much information as possible on the AFA webpages. This will help you to understand how the condition is likely to effect you. Im not qualified to comment on medical issues, nor is anyone here on the forum, but there is a wealth of experience to be found here which I'm sure you will find helpful......I know I did! One thing to remember is that AF is not going to be the end of your world as you know it.

    Best wishes, John

  • Hi Paul, I've had Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation for about 17 or 18 years. I'm 69 now. It's controlled with Flecainide and I take Warfarin to reduce my risk of a stroke. I've had 4 minor episodes in the last 3 years (3 lasting about 30 minutes until I managed to get off to sleep - gone when I woke up, and one lasting 2 hours). Since I've avoided what I believe are triggers in my case - coffee (not caffeine), and soya - I've had fewer episodes. In itself AF is not life-threatening. Until I found the right medication it interfered with what I wanted to do. Now it's just something I have which doesn't get in the way of anything I wish to do. Don't let it get you down.

  • Hi Paul, I'm 64.9 and have had AF and other arrhythmias for a long time. I had an ablation 10 years ago which cured everything for 8 years or so, and I was back to normal, including a lot of cycling. Then an arrhythmia came back and I couldn't do anything for a year, walking was hard enough, no chance at all on a bike. Eventually after an aborted ablation, the EP tried out various drugs and got one that worked on me very well. Thanks to that I'm now back cycling. Not quite as fit as before because I got out of condition and I'm older I suppose.

    I've been on Warfarin some years now, doesn't make any difference to me at all.

    Hopefully you can get back on your bike if you get the right treatment, drugs or whatever.



  • A year ago, I felt as if the carpet had been pulled from under my feet and life as I had known it was no more. Flecainide had been controlling AF well for a couple of years but the irregularities and all the uncertainty, annoyance and frustration AF generates had been creeping back into my life and ruling it. One way and another I felt I was trying to swim against the tide. Then my other half's health problems and medication rather made mine all look a bit trivial and we spent a couple of months in the slow lane at the beginning of the year. I had an ablation in March which has enabled me to give up flecainide and we have both made a lot of strides forward in the last few months. I would encourage you, paulh and moonstone, not to be despondent. I feel far more in control now, having gained the upper hand on the AF front and acquired so much knowledge and support from this forum.

  • Thanks for all the responses. My wife has been telling me to stay off the internet cause every time I get on and start checking AFIB out I get more depressed. I know there are people out there who have worse afflictions than this but I went from someone who took no meds to taking meds twice a day. From your responses I know that maybe with some modification I can get back to sort of doing what I was doing before. Thanks again

  • This site, people living with AF, is a fabulous resource. We do understand. All that said, we all have different solutions, meds, ablations, diet.... keep digging until you find yours! It is a process of elimination at times, and others you'll hit the nail on the head. Be of good courage - all is not lost!

  • Paul, AFib is one massive learning curve and it affects the majority of us in different ways. I'm 43 and like you and so many people on here have active pastimes. I'm still active, but have had to learn to work around my AFib, but it certainly doesn't stop me. You're seeing an EP which is the right place to start, also you are on an Anti Coagulant, which is important. I trawl the internet for Sportsmen and Sportswomen who have this condition and there are so many who through one procedure or another get their AF under control and then continue to compete. Try a search in the internet and you'll be surprised. With the right treatment I don't see why you won't be sidelined for long.

  • Hi paul, I am a few years younger than you but a few years ahead on the af journey , having had an ablation that was successful. My own experience is that af changes your life and that you have to learn how to live with it and manage your own situation.

    I would suggest that anyone new to af first considers their diet and make immediate dietary changes so as not to exacerbate the problem. After that it is up to you to find a balance of sporting activity that your body will tolerate.

    If you read back on any posts i have made you will find some to do with diet and my own experiences.

    good luck


  • Yeah Phil - I agree with all you said about diet.


  • Hi. I knew there would be some good responses. After a sleepy start yesterday I ended with a good day. Had a short walk in the sun and even got dressed up in the evening instead of pjs. I did nothing different apart from a little more acceptance of this is where I am in cosmos at this particular time. Today is feeling good too. I would say to Paul h wife that she has a point. The Internet can take over as happened to someone I know whose husband has a debilitating illness. Their lives were ruled by the illness. A balance needs to be made. But this site is absolutely brilliant. It's hands on.

  • Hi Paul, I'm 61 and Lone AF management has been quite intensive this year. I would recommend that you work with the medics to find the right pills (I was lucky the first ones Flecainide worked albeit at a higher dose than I started on) as stabilisation is essential.

    Then focus on improving lifestyle issues, keep a diary and accept sport is temporarily on hold until you have gained more knowledge - I am missing tennis but not that much that I am prepared right now to risk AF.

    I have given myself a target of a year ending March 2015 to get my life back on track and get off most of the drugs; there are benefits from focussing on lifestyle!

  • I have every intention of getting my ass back in the gym and eventually on my bike...after 2 ablations and today feeling good Paul...its not all doom and gloom..just an inconvenient blip! I have to go forth regardless if I get AF in the future or I'd just sit in an armchair and fade chance! :-D :-D

  • Hi Paul; I gather that your AF is triggered by exercise. Have you had a Bruce protocol stress test on a treadmill so an EP or advanced cardiac nurse can interpret your AF? I've just turned 68 and I had a Bruce protocol test last March that verified my gym readings; these were that my AF is likely to be triggered at or above exercising at 155 bpm. I've been out of the gym for 5 months due to pulmonary toxicity / cryptogenic organising pneumonia in both lungs caused by dronedarone and amiodarone. However, after discussion with the respiratory specialist - also a gym bunny - I've been using my bike on a turbo for 20 to 40 minutes at home and not exceeding 144 bpm. To date I haven't had any AF and my only medication are steroids to assist in repairing my lungs. So subject to discussion with an EP, this may be a way to keep active.

  • John-boy,I had the treadmill test and they couldn't get me to replicate the episode. They had me on for over 13 minutes.It is usually activated in the first few minutes of exercise. If I ride my bike and don't have anything show on the first mile or so I'm ok. Swimming is a different kettle of fish. It usually starts within the first 2 or 3 laps. Sometimes I've rested for about 10 minutes and I'm ok. Other times it doesn't matter how long I wait. I can ride a spinning bike til my legs fall off and nothing, but put me outside on my road bike then it kicks up. I monitor my hr with a chest strap on my bike. I don't even want to tell you how high it's peaked during one of my episodes on the bike :-(. I've tried warming up before hand and that doesn't help

  • Hi Paul; you did well to stay in sinus on the Bruce Protocol test (stage 4 - 12 to 15 minutes =16% slope, walking at 6.7 km/h). Is the breathing in swimming triggering AF, possibly due to low oxygen saturation?

    Do you ride the Spin bike at 90 -100 rpm as you would your road bike, or do you "hill climb" at 60 rpm or less on high resistance? I can ride a Spin Bike at high cadence in AF at 200 bpm with peaks at 230 but it gives a power loss of around 20%.

  • John-boy, usually I ride the spin bike to a dvd for an hour. Different types of terrain.I agree with the low oxygen saturation. What is odd is that sometimes after resting and letting my heart rate drop ,I can swim like I never had a problem. Other times I can't get past two laps no matter how long I wait.I get the "flutter" even when I don't exercise. It just doesn't cause me any problems like when I get it while exercising. I'm going to try swimming again tomorrow and I have a bike ride planned for Tuesday. I don't ride alone anymore at least not till I figure this thing out.

  • AussieJohn is absolutely right. In 2012 I was one of the oldest people to complete the Fit Brit Challenge. In June 2014 my limit was walking 200 metres at a slow pace due to pulmonary toxicity; I'll be in the gym on Wednesday for the first time in 5 months but with different expectations. You and I and all the other fit people with AF can adapt, as long as we don't measure ourselves against what we used to do.

    If low oxygen saturation during swimming is the problem, you could try two things that I've used to help my lungs recover:

    1) modified yoga breathing - breath in through the nose for x seconds, hold for 2x seconds, breath out through the mouth for x seconds; x was 4 seconds in hospital and is now 10 seconds;

    2) look at a Powerbreathe as it may help to strengthen your intercostal muscles.

    For me, arrythmia or a raised resting heat rate usually meant that AF would kick in during exercise even if it's after 30 - 45 minutes in sinus. I've been using an ithlete app for sometime - it measures r-r intervals in the heart beat - and I wouldn't exercise if it flagged an orange or red day.

    Good luck with the swimming and bike ride, relax and take it easier than you normally would.

  • John-boy, what app is that???

  • The web site is I use it with my Polar chest band and a receiver that plugs into my Samsung (Android OS) tablet. I've found that it detects the onset of a bug as well as advising whether I should be careful about exercise. It measures the r-r interval of the heart beat. On some days it won't measure as my heart beat isn't sufficiently stable. The measurement is taken over 55 seconds and is displayed as current values with historical data.

  • G'day Paul,

    Paroxysmal AF hit me at the age of 65 after a life of being pretty healthy. Not athletically/sportingly fit like you but still fit. I'm now just turned 70 and still working driving buses, al beit, part time and no shift work !

    Yes - you will get your life back, it may not be as you knew it, but you will get it back. Work with medics, listen to your own body it'll guide you AND .......... NEVER say NEVER !

    Try and look on the exercise as moving from one plateau to another plateau; you leave the old plateau behind, have a bit of a struggle climbing vertically to the next plateau but you get there, then, once there you take stock, reorganise whatever needs reorganising/rebuild and start off again on the new plateau and follow your sporting/athletic interests, but, maybe on slightly different terms. Sad to say though there is no quick fix and it maybe be quite some time before you are back to normal. Took me about 3 and half years but even so I have my life back.

    Bon voyage.


  • Thanks John. Listen to the Dr. and patience. I've reconciled myself to the fact that I may have to temper my workouts .

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