AF / Eptopics after endurance training or exercise?

I'm 32 and after my ablation earlier this year I have been trying to keep up with regular exercise.

I find that after a long bike ride or hike/run (>3 hours of exercise) that I will suffer with a high frequency of eptopic beats for a number of hours while I am recovering.

Does anyone have a view on whether getting fitter and fitter pushes these symptoms further and further away? (This seems to be the case with me but it may just be linked to my recovery from ablation).

I'd appreciate any views on the links between AF/irregularities and exercise.

Thanks,

Stuart

17 Replies

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  • Adrenaline was always a trigger. For me, exercise triggers adrenaline release so it is possible. I can't box anymore but I can ride a bike at a gentle pace without too many problems.

  • Did you use to get AF while boxing, or afterwards?

    I only seem to get symptoms afterwards during recovery.

  • During, half way through a 90minutes club session.

    That said, I have used cycling to put me back into NSR right up to having my ablation 3 weeks ago.

  • Surely you are aware of the link between endurance training and AF? This is a well documented problem for both endurance athletes and fast jet fighter pilots (fighting g force obviously affects the heart). At your age it would seem a prime suspect.

    I would have thought once bitten twice shy but each to his own.

    That said, Sabine Ernst once told me that ectopics were a sign that the heart was trying to go into AF and failing.

  • I can't find any research about the link between endurance training and AF. Is there anything you can point me in the direction of?

    For me training hard definitely reduces AF symptoms during normal day to day life. I keep a heart diary and during periods of increased training I subsequently see periods of reduced AF symptoms... But training hard itself seems to bring on short duration AF symptoms directly afterwards (after which I feel fantastic). There must be something in this, but I don't really understand.

  • Sorry I've found some scholarly articles on ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  • Who is Sabine Ernst? Sorry for any ignorance here

  • Sabine is one of the top EPs in the world. She was assistant to the guy in Germany who did the first RF catheter ablations in the mid nineties and does a lot of research work out of Royal Brompton Hospital. Why not google her.

  • Thanks Bob. Will do.

  • Stuart, it's best not to overdo the exercise as it can lead to AF as you probably know already. One cardiologist /EP advised our support group recently NOT to underake too much exercise- he thought walking us best!

    It sounds as if you are pushing the limits and I don't think it's wise!

  • Hi! It sounds to me like you are "pushing the limits" as well. Although I do understand the desire. I do a lot of cycling, a lot it being necessarily uphill because I spend my summers in the Auvergne, in France, which makes up part of the volcanic chain. That really gets my heart pumping. I am now lucky enough to have a pacemaker so that AF is no longer a problem of which I am aware, whatever might be going on underneath it all. However, I remember my specialist telling me, during my pre- and post-cardioversion days, in order to minimise the "tumbling heart" effect immediately i stopped cycling to rest, rather than stopping suddenly and completely, to continue walking with my bike so that it becomes a cooling down period rather than a sudden stop. It worked. Similar to a workout in the gym, I guess, when one is advised to warm up beforehand and cool down at the end. One of the hardest things, if you have been normally a physically active person, is to have to cut the suit to fit the cloth. But it does pay off in the end. I would no longer challenge my endurance the way I used to, but I still ride every day with somewhat smaller challenges and I thank the lord for small mercies!

  • Gosh sounds so much to me, hoovering out the car or lifting few bags of soil sends my heart all over the place :-(

  • A late reply but me too. I dont think they know how lucky they are to be able to do so much despite their AF and they grumble about it ,,,,,,,!

  • I think you need to gauge peoples responses depending on their experience of endurance exercising. Quite a few of ex-endurance runners get AF. I am 66, 30 years a recreational runner (marathons etc) and started AF about 7 years ago. Stopping alcohol helped a lot. I am now a touring cyclist, about 100 miles a week. My AF does not always start immediately after exercise. Typically after an "event" eg anxiety/stress/alcohol/exercise it starts 24 hours later. May last 3 days but being fit, I do not notice it so much and try and carry on normally. My advice from cycling cardiologists is, keep cycling, avoid heart rate getting too high, listen to your body, take it easier when necessary. I avoid racing the young guys, enjoy steady touring, but will go up to 100 miles. If I have AF, cycling sometimes stops it, but I only do very gentle cycling when in AF. Currently trying to establish if long hard cycles are making AF worse. Not conclusive at present.

  • I wondered if you had reached a conclusion on long hard rides yet? I am also a cyclist and do about 140 miles a week and suffer from AFib. I have noticed that if I do a hard ride and take my heart to its max rate even for a couple of minutes I will have a bout of Afib about 24-48hours later when I go to sleep. I then recover NSR after 24 hours. I am presently on metoprolol. I think there is a connection with the severity of the exercise but I am not sure. The delay to going into AFib seems strange too.

    I have also experienced going back into sinus while riding, but that has only happened once.

  • Hi Robert H,

    I have been in persitent AF for the past 3 months and have just come back from my cardioversion today, which has put me back in NSR. Previously I was doing 120 miles a week. Then since persistent AF started I have tried to keep cycling. It is like cycling with a motor at only70%. I have avoided pushing too hard, take steep hills slowly with stops, and aim for steady flattish rides. Still managed 40/50 mile rides and up to 100mpw. Looking back, I think the harder club rides(trying to keep up with the younger guys), the longer hilly rides where I was pushing hard, probably brought on my persistent AF, but not totally sure. I now have the interesting prospect back in NSR of cycling again but trying not to push too hard and bring on AF. I plan to keep heart rate down but want to get back to touring cycling. I have 4 cycle tours abroad booked for 2016. Time will tell!

  • Good to hear that you are now back in NSR. Thank you for the info. I found my first few rides after CV difficult it seemed my heart wasn't back to normal even though I was in NSR. It has gradually got better and closer to 'normal'. Enjoy the tours!

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