Exercise and Afib: I'm still in the early... - AF Association

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Exercise and Afib

I'm still in the early stages of trying different medications to control persistent Afib. I now take Rivaroxaban and diltiazem.

I'd like to start exercising to aid mobility- I have widespread arthritis also and the Afib has literally stopped me in my tracks and I've been nervous about doing anything that impacts my heart rate.

My EP has said I should try to become more active but I'm still apprehensive. I have a treadmill and wonder if it's a good idea to start using it again, building up slowly. I'd be very grateful for any advice and thank you.

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I have not been incapacitated in the way you describe with Afib. but have on occasion had to build up exercise from a low level for other reasons. It might be a good idea to start at rock botton and do chair exercises while seated with your arms and legs..You do not say how active you are ....walking?Around the house?Outside?

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Follow the advice of your EP because exercise is good for you. The advice we offer is to listen to your body because it will soon make you aware if you are overdoing it and it is important to stop immediately if there are any signs of discomfort, let alone pain which is an absolute no no! Build up your strength gradually and you will definitely reap the benefits of your efforts.....

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Physical activity is important but that doesn’t have to mean hard gym workouts or marathons 😉 I suggest starting with some gentle walks. Each time you go out try to go a little further. As Flapjack says listen to your body. I always listen to podcasts or music when I go walking.

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Listen to your EP. Mine has always stressed that I should continue to do as much as I can, it is still important to maintain good heart health. I was diagnosed 5 years ago after progressively getting less fit and fatter as I was struggling to exercise for at least a couple of years before (as you do when your hearts out of rhythm and running at 200bpm with no treatment). I’ve had 2 ablations, a pacemaker, am still on anti arrhythmic and beta blocker and still I get episodes (and I’ve got high heart pressures from treatment that’s now affecting my lungs). And still the advice is that I should progressively push my limit bit by bit. I’ve always continued to walk, sometimes miles, but realised my pace was very steady and I wasn’t really maintaining my cardiovascular health. I’ve recently started cardiac rehab and surprised myself with getting heart rate up and sweating for the first time in a long while. They have a heart rate zone they have decided for me that they would like me to achieve, my goal is to exercise to a perceived effort level. I’m learning to warm up well and pace better. I’m back at pacing clinic with my EP Tuesday as I’ve had a bad month with arrhythmia but am happy with exercising. Warm up (and down) really well and only slowly add a bit more effort each time.

It’s made me so happy to realise my fitness can improve safely. Don’t be scared do whatever is necessary to make yourself feel safe whilst you test what you can do.

Exercise is good - work to your own agenda though, you are starting from your own place and only gradually increase pace or effort.

Good luck.

Jo

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My story is similar. I had an ablation at the end of Jan. I had been inactive for about four years...firstly with gut problems (undiagnosed Coeliac) then with AF. I was so weak. I asked my GP if he could suggest a way that I could exercise safely and he referred me to the local gym where there is a trainer who specialises in helping people who have been ill .At first my heart rate was very irregular but I am amazed at how quickly I am getting stronger. I am eighty and have never been to a gym before. My heart rate has steadied and I am actually enjoying the challenge.

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I was so fit in my youth, classes in my 20s, running in my 30s, long distance and hill walking in my 40s. I was reduced to tears unable to walk the ramp up the train station without stopping or upstairs at home without breathlessness on occasion. I had numerous false starts trying Nordic Walking and Pilates. It’s easy on your own to go too fast too soon or too long. You also have to rebuild the muscle to ask it to work. I can imagine me being able to dance again and maybe walk up a hill with friends. I can’t imagine getting to 80 with the heart and lung damage but I’m going to give it a damn good go.

I’m seriously impressed that you’ve undertaken to do this at your age, too many people accept the decline as age related, not understanding you need to work at strength and mobility.

Keep well.

Jo

X

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I am seeing a consultant physio for my osteoarthritis and he was keen for me to exercise gently - tai chi, wateraerobics, walking and exercise bike but told me not to get very breathless as I might set my AF off.

Hope that helps X

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When my PAF was unstable, I found exercise hard because a) I was very tired all the time b) I was worried I would get the HR up and it wouldn't go down c) I'd go somewhere and not be able to get back.

It's a circle for me, if my AF had been stable I'd have excersized more, lost weight and helped stablise my AF which would have meant I'd have been able to be more active and stablise my AF more when would mean I would be more active etc etc

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I would start off with some gentle basic yoga and pilates. Swimming and walking also a good place to start and build up slowly !

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Regarding swimming I would ask specifically, although it is a joint friendly exercise it does exert extra pressure on your heart. Here is the BHF advice.

bhf.org.uk/informationsuppo...

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Thank you for posting the link to the BHF’s advice on swimming. Prior to my AF diagnosis I used to swim regularly but I then began to struggle with breathlessness, dizziness and discomfort which I attributed to not being sufficiently fit. I eventually swam less and less and finally stopped. It was after this that I was diagnosed with AF. I did try to resume swimming but felt unwell again. However, I miss it very much therefore I think I will give it another go – but this time I will have more knowledge thanks to the guidance from the BHF (thanks to you).

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hi marlathome i have PAF and i walk 3 times per week plus i try to do 2-3 light weight training sessions per week i must say that at times its a real battle against tiredness at times but our heart isnt the only thing we have our whole body to try to keep on top of so try to keep active in some form should it be washing your car everyday just get moving i know a man with a-fib and when he gets an attack he will go for a run and claims when his heart rate is coming back down that the attack has dissapated

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Hi, I am new to this as am still in a state of denial after being diagnosed with AF. It was diagnosed opportunistically when I had my flue jab in January. I am a mad keen cyclist - do at least 120miles a week, but was finding recently (in the past 4months) that my hill climbing was deteriorating. (Not that I've been a good hill climber as try to avoid as much as I can). I also work at least 2 days a week in health care and also help to look after my grandchildren as my daughter works full time. The group/groups I cycle with are getting faster and fitter, so I attributed my recent 'slower than normal pace' to being less fit than them!!

I have now been taking rivaroxaban, bisoprolol and ramapril (vile drugs) for 6 weeks after being referred to a cardiologist, and have requested cardioversion which I am having this week. (Very nervous)

However my point is that I am continuing to excercise and keep cycling, as I cannot imagine life without it. (sad I know)

Just to say that I did get referred two years ago but cardiologist told me that I may have had paroxysmal AF but he could not see any sign of it then and discharged me.

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Are you in continuous AF or paroxysmal AF? If PAF then maybe you can consider catheter ablation. Then you can get off the drugs and get back to at least a moderate level of cycling.

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Have been told persistent AF. I am still continuing what I would say is a moderate level of cycling and I go to the gym. I had no symptoms till I commenced bisoprolol and ramapril-take them on an evening as can't be doing with the lethargy that they cause - which I didn't have before!!

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Ugh, that stinks! The lethargy from the drugs are awful. I am a runner that was diagnosed with PAF in April and they tried diltiazem and flecainide. Neither controlled the AF and made me feel so lethargic. I am scheduled for ablation in a month. Hoping I get my life back after the procedure. I wish you good luck with the cardioversion!

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If my cardioversion is not successful then I may request ablation - anything !! My only two risk factors are 1 being female and 2 being over 65!

Aaggg

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Wow! Well I'm female and 69 but my EP said if the medication doesn't work then we can discuss ablation or a pacemaker so he clearly doesn't see either as a problem.

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It's a shock isn't it? I too was diagnosed unexpectedly whilst seeing the GP about a sore foot. I have to say I am pretty much sedentary due to arthritis but can imagine how galling this must be for someone who is very active.

I'm really trying to lose weight and move more but I find the medication - Rivaroxaban and diltiazem- make me tired and I'm still quite breathless.

I hope all goes well with the cardioversion - let us know how you get on.

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Thanks so much for all your input. I'm going to take your advice and try at first to have a regular walking routine and then see where I go from there.

It's so good to hear from people with the same problems and it's given me confidence to trust my instincts.

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Thank you for this post.

I've found I've lost muscle mass and am out of condition since my hypertension and more recent PAF diagnosis. i have decided though having difficultly with gym work twice a week: cardiovascular exercise and some light weights. If only to make me feel that my life is not over.

Your post and the replies have giving me confidence.

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Don't forget that even mild exercise releases endorphins that are the natural way to get a high. Apparently the feel good phase can last 24 hours, so this alone is a really good reason to get back to exercise. As earlier commenters say, listen to your body, but dont be afraid to give it some gentle nudges at the same time. I do on a regular basis and feel so much better for it.

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Try and find out if there is a Cardio Rehab class running near you. Your GP should know or the British Heart Foundation may have a list of classes. Your cardio nurses should also know. When I was first diagnosed with AFib I started on a Phase 3 class and continued doing the classes during and after my 1st cardioversion. When my courses ended I could have carried on going to that same local authority gym but it was 9 miles away from where I lived so decided to carry on at my local private gym and just went forward with the advice given at those classes. I carried on and was doing really well this year until my knee pain became really unbearable - I am having a replacement knee operation next week and then went back into persistent AFib just short of a year post my first cardioversion. Had anothger cv at the end of July and again back in NSR. Found it much easier to cope with Afib the second time around as knew what to expect and knew I could carry on exercising all be it at a lower rate whilst in Afib. First time around I could barely manage to walk from the house to the car without getting breathless and fatigued - infact walking downstairs was quite a challenge at times. I also think it helped knowing what tablets I could take as the first year in AFib was taken up with finding tablets that didn't make me more breathless and fatigued. To be honest none of them really worked well for much more than 6 weeks for me which was why I was pleased to finally see a cardiologist after being diagnosed with AFib by my GP and waiting 14 months to see a cardio who was willing to try cardioversion - I don't think they would have done anything for my AFib if I hadn't moved house and finally managed to see this lovely lady and get on a better Cardio Rehab course than the one held in my old home town.

Hope you are able to find a course near you - you may be able to find one by just googling Cardio Rehab courses in ... ... ...

Good Luck

Des

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