I’ve seen a few posts touching on this and thought I might share my experiences in case anyone is interested, in particular those with an ‘exercise dependency’ like me. Whenever I am faced with any sort of life disruption one of my first thoughts is what impact it will have on my exercise routine. I workout 6 days a week with crossfit and maybe 2-3 x 5km runs on top of that plus a few other things if I have time.
I have suffered from PAF for 20+ years (I’m now 43). Was diagnosed 10 years ago and managed to get by on PIP since then. That is until this year when frequency of episodes increased to around monthly and they also became less predictable - avoiding my usual triggers didn’t always work. I’d had enough and spoke to my EP, 2 weeks later had RF ablation (PVI and flutter), this was almost 3 months ago.
In discussing the ablation one of my first questions to the EP was how soon I could get back to exercise. I’d read all the literature but still needed to hear the answer directly. As expected I was told to take it very easy for 1 week, could go for walks in week 2 and then gradual return to exercise from week 3.
The ablation went very smoothly, I had no pain/discomfort/groin bruising at all afterwards apart from a sore throat with a bit of bloody mucus for a few days. On day 3 I walked around the supermarket and could barely make it back to the car, felt extremely tired like my legs were about to give out. Fortunately I had a trolley to lean on and my wife was driving. Day 4 I felt a bit better and walked the dog, about 2km. Tired at the end but not wobbling like the day before. Steady improvement with the same dog walk each day.
At the start of week 2 I began more exercise focused walking, building from 5 to 10km per day over the course of the week. I was very careful to listen to my body and always wore a heart rate monitor. I tried to keep my rate below 120. I never had any chest pain or discomfort nor any other issues.
Start of week 3 (2 weeks post op) I began to build things up again. Definitely got carried away and overdid it on the first day (again no pain but just very fatigued) but learned from that and whilst I always listened to my body, I did also push as much as I could within these limits. The limits to me were pretty obvious, I would just hit a wall and it was clear I could physically go no further. From about week 5 I have been pushing as hard as possible.
My EP told me that ablation is like open heart surgery just without opening the chest, it’s a significant intervention. Like any surgery, but especially involving the heart, sufficient rest and recovery is crucial. He did however say that overdoing things would not affect the success or otherwise of the procedure itself, it’s just clearly not a good idea to strain a system that’s had such a shock.
I have now been exercising without any restriction for about 7 weeks (minus a week with man flu). In fact my volume is now higher than pre-ablation because exercise was always a trigger and I found if I did a hard workout in the morning I had to take it easy for the rest of the day. Now I have no issue doing a couple of hard sessions per day. I also had to hold back on certain HIIT workouts in the past as they were triggers but have no such limitation now. This being said it’s clear that my fitness has not yet recovered to where it was pre-ablation and I reckon that might take another 3 months or more.
This is obviously not meant as any advice on how to manage your own situations, everyone will have different experiences. I am fortunate to have an EP who understood my goals and was supportive of me getting back to being active. He trusted me not to overdo things and for the most part I hope I have lived up to this. I did however find that it is absolutely possible to get back to high intensity exercise within a month.
I’m very happy with the ablation and just wish I’d done it a few years ago.
Sorry for the long post.