Afib,meds and running: Had another 24hrs in A... - AF Association

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Afib,meds and running

positively4thstreet profile image

Had another 24hrs in A + E for Afib episode

Seen by cardiologist who has started me on verapamil and flecanide.

My AF was caused by running,

Was diagnosed 6yrs ago

I’ve been a long distance runner for years and apparently this caused it

Episodes have became more frequent over the last 6 months and I was started on daily meds

Flecanide only at first now it’s Verapamil and flecanide

Is there any runners or people who exercise regularly have any experience with these meds?

Had allsorts of tests done and apparently my heart is structurally healthy and it’s a problem with “the electrics”

Any guidance or identification would be appreciated

Thank you

42 Replies

You need to ask to be referred to an electro physiologist (EP). He is a specialist in the electrical side of the heart whereas a cardiologist is a specialist in the pipe work and flow. Think of it as the difference between a plumber and an electrician and with AFIb we need an electrician.

There is a long history of high AF prevalence of AF in endurance athletes. You are not the first and will not be the last.

May I suggest you look at the work of Dr John Mandrola (a cyclist) who co-authored - The Haywire Heart - subtitle -how too much exercise can kill you and how to look after your heart - which looked specifically at this issue.

You may also be interested in The AFibCure which looks at lifestyle changes, which will include reducing your exercise, as well as treatment options such as ablation and the pros and cons of various drugs.

Also understand about AF - lots of information on the AFA website including Factsheets, video links and learning programmes.

Hope that helps

Thank youI will have a look

PS: Quote from the article I provided a link to:-

Athletes with AF face a tough choice. The disease tugs at what we hold so precious: our beloved vigor. Each treatment has limitations, risks and benefits. No magic potion exists. No hike to the treasure easy.

Same here a runner most of my life. Persistent AF started a few years back and I can no longer do minor inclines. I can get to 5k with intermittent walking but its not fun anymore. Been through the drugs list, stopped Bisoprolol as the fatigue was killing my energy levels. Dr says I am to old for an ablation so it looks like I'm grounded.

Ambler profile image
Ambler in reply to ScotRun

Would you mind telling us your age please?

ScotRun profile image
ScotRun in reply to Ambler


KMRobbo profile image
KMRobbo in reply to ScotRun

I am not a doctor nor medically trained, but 68 years old is not too old for an ablation . The persistent AF may be a reason, but not your age.

ScotRun profile image
ScotRun in reply to KMRobbo

Encouraging to hear. Will have a word with Doctor. Thanks

KMRobbo profile image
KMRobbo in reply to ScotRun

You need to see an EP, Electro Physiologist, they are the experts on electrical issues with the heart.Best wishes

Karendeena profile image
Karendeena in reply to KMRobbo

I agree, my EP only refers to 'not wanting to put a wire through the heart if you were 80+

Lucymoo profile image
Lucymoo in reply to ScotRun

Interesting I’m 68 and had an ablation in may. Not heard of age being used before to say you cannt have an ablation but all areas differ

ScotRun profile image
ScotRun in reply to Lucymoo

Encouraging to hear. Will have a word with Doctor. Thanks


lovetogarden profile image
lovetogarden in reply to ScotRun

That seems young to be told you’re too old for an ablation! I had one last summer at 65 and am figuring there might be more in my future.

ScotRun profile image
ScotRun in reply to lovetogarden

Encouraging to hear. Will have a word with Doctor. Thanks

Moderation is key for your exercise P4th.

Walk - don't run.

"Flecanide only at first now it’s Verapamil and flecanide"

Good combo in my option. I'm not a medic though so can't speak for your needs. I asked for this a few years ago but was told no. Right call or wrong call ? Who know's ? Hmmm.

Have a great weekend.


I was out this morning and done 10miles in 1hr 30mins with no problems at allIt’s so frustrating man

I'm with you fella - good run and well done. For sure it's frustrating - I still suggest moderation is key though. Enjoy your running but take it easy dude.

Cheers Paul

Thank you manCheers for the reply

No worries fella. Don't give up what you enjoy but take things easy - for now anyway.

Enjoy your runs.

Have a great weekend.


EDIT post - I think about this and I want to add this comment. 10 miles is to much 4th. You might be be fine with it - you may not as well. I can't tell you what to do but just note you maybe ok doing it once or twice but it doesn't always mean you will. Not with afib.

Just saying ;-)

One more EDIT It can change over night - believe me on that one. Sorry I sound like a loser saying that - I'm not.

Good luck and don't give up what you enjoy mate.


I was not such a rinner as you but ran 4 or 6 miles twice a week, plus a 25 mile bike plus circuit training for an hour.I took both drugs but not together. I was on verapamil 120mg mod release for 20 months , it did not noticably affect my running at all ( unlike beta blockers bisoprolol and atenolol which i tried first and i could not run on them).

Owing to my afib getting worse I was then put on flecainide with 200mg diltiazem rate control. I could and did run on the combination but it was very hard work max heart rate 137bpm, so basically i was flat out all the time and going slow.

However i am fairly sure it was the diltiazem causing this not the flecainide.

(Rate control) so maybe verapamil may be better. But with meds we are all different.

I then had an PVI ablation which allowed me to stop all meds. So I got back to running.

HOWEVER I am pretty sure that running was not the cause of my afib.

I’m just waiting on my arrhythmia clinic appointment to get an ablation scheduled

Thank you

I have recently been listening to a very interesting chapter in the book about exercise " The Afib Cure " by Dr.John D Day and Dr.T Jarred Bunch and Matthew D La Plante , I am finding the book very enlightening and would highly recommend.

Thank you

Hi P4th, I was running 4 to 6 times per week with distances between 3 and 10 miles when I first developed PAF. First treatment was flecainide and low dose bisoprolol for rate control. The bisop kicked my butt for a while, but soon got used to it. I then had an ablation (PVI and flutter), which fixed things for a short while before developing a 2:1 rate, so was stuck in tachycardia for a few months - 15mg of bisoprolol daily kept me at around 110bpm. Running was pretty much impossible during this time.

I had a 2nd ablation 3 weeks ago, quite a bit was to redo the 1st where nerves had healed and a coupe of new areas. I'm now back to very light jog/walking.

Fortunately my heart structure is healthy, but I do feel that pushing running may have been a factor in knocking my heart back into tachycardia after the 1st ablation. So I'm taking it much easier this time round.

I started on it last Friday and all seems good so farGonna try and run 2 days rest a day and do yoga and meditation

Ran 5miles Saturday and 10 Sunday with no issues

Will rest today and try 5/6 miles tomorrow

I was on verapamil for 7 years, did me no good. I had several episodes at A & E and was accused , sometimes directly , of wasting their time (180 bpm) isn't fun. Anyway struck lucky one night when the duty A &E consultant gave me bisoprolol intravenously and pulse dropped instantly to 80 bpm, The duty cardiologist couldn't be bothered to come and see me so the A & E Dr told me that I'd have to ' fight it out with my GP' for a change in prescription. This I duly did, in addition to paying for a private cardio consult. That was about two and a half years ago. All well at present ...fingers crossed !In my opinion the NHS is like curates egg ".....Good in places..." However if it wasn't free I wouldn't be going there.

KMRobbo profile image
KMRobbo in reply to a1anx

that sounds a bit like what I had at my local hospital. Whereabouts are you?

I'm 66 and cycle 25 to 40k a day, Sundays a light 10k spin.My afib episode was just once 4 months ago, and a large meal too close to bed time is the main suspect. Having said that, I am not, nor ever have been a runner. Not sure what the HR stats and science behind running are, but my HR while riding are displayed in real time via my watch, so I am careful to not exceed my max HR in my age group...155....I keep it within 125-135.

I am on channel blockers *Diltiazem* and Xeralto *thinners* and I see no difference in fatigue or endurance....having said that, it is mostly flat where I ride, so no "alps" to conquer lol. The ER initially gave me Metoprolol *beta blocker* , and it crushed me. I was a zombie... couldn't walk 50m with being exhausted. They quickly switched me to a channel blocker, and back in the saddle. As far as competitions...marathons, triathlons, not for me. I raced mountain bikes for a few years, but I sucked, and mostly DNF'd 😋

But I do have friends who did extreme sports for decades with no heart issues, and others who have afib now. Percentage by their demographic as compared to the general population? No idea.

Did they give you a stress-test *treadmill* and ultrasound?

And I know this gonna hurt...but have you considered... walking? Not sauntering or strolling, but brisk walking...not the arm flailing, stick flapping sort, but just the ol' regimental 120bpm sort.

Yeah I’m having to restructure my training nowAs I say I’m waiting on an appointment at the arrhythmia clinic,but as it’s the NHS there’s a huge backlog at this time

But hopefully it’ll come soon

Best of luck and chin up 🙂

Thanks man👍🏻

The link between exercise and Afib is interesting and I wrote a synopsis of lots of studies as my first ever post on my Afib blog. You might find it interesting:

I'm a runner and when I told the EP and other cardiologists how much exercise I did he laughed and said that that amount would not cause it. It was just bad luck, genetics etc

Hope you get sorted out soon x

Were you still running up until you got your ablation??And are you running after it??

I had a cardioversion and started running again two months later. Then I got afib 4 mths later again. Had ablation and ran again 5mths after. More afib six months later and another ablation, which was two months ago so not running yet. But I will when I get over postablation fatigue.

I was on flecainide for 5-6 years and it didnt affect my running but obviously it didn't stop the afib either!

It’s doing my head inRan Saturday 5 miles

Sunday 10

Today 5miles with no problems at all

(Except anxiety)

Quicker the appointment for the arrhythmia clinic comes the better

Any advice or guidance man??


Lucky you. I'm always cometely incapacitated with Afib, can barely walk and in it permanently until electrically cardioverted. So no exercise for me!Ps I'm a man-ette, by the way, nott a man 😂😂😂😂

Hahah sorryNo offence

Just a figure of speech

Same story here (heart fit, electric problem only). My flecainide experience as part of a pill in the pocket treatment was not good. Couldn’t exercise for days after. Ended up getting ablation. So far so good. Hope you do better than I did with flecainide

No offence taken 😂

The anxiety of this Afib is murderHad all checks done and it doesn’t stop it at all

Obsessed with it

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