Arrhythmia Alliance
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Ablation in 10 old athlete struggling

Ablation in 10 old athlete struggling

I am a 60 year old female who has always been very active, teaching fitness classes and backpacking. I took up mountain biking a few months ago and really pushed my heart (redlining!) and developed AFib or SVT. I had always been proud of my low resting heart rate, now I know that it may have been more of a curse than a blessing. I am scheduled for ablation in 10 days and my EP is concerned about the difficulty in finding the misbehaving areas to ablate. I am actually less worried about the ablation than I am about the very real potential for a need to change my lifestyle. I know that sounds so petty and shallow but I guess much of my identity has been as a very fit person. I am reading more and more about reversible changes in the heart with training and then DEtraining. Sounds like such a simple choice, right? Just decrease the exercise intensity and hope for the best. I am reaching out in this forum because I think there are other "exercise addicted" people out there with similar feelings. I need some mutual hand holding as I make my way through the ablation and how my life is going to change now. Thanks in advance!

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I was involved in several forms of exercise, especially squash where I'd push physical boundaries. Eight years ago I went into AF playing tennis and this triggered many life changes. For the next several years I experienced 2-3 episodes a year, often during strenuous exercise, or accompanying a digestive problem, or randomly in the middle of the night. I became phobic of these episodes and gradually stopped all vigorous exercise. I started taking magnesium and fish oil supplements and, sensing a link between digestion and AF, became paranoid about foods that might lead to indigestion. It felt like my world was diminishing rapidly.

At one point I said to myself: enough is enough - and went on daily low-dose flecenaide - reasoning that, since AF begets AF, a major goal should be to prevent further episodes at all costs. I took up other hobbies - intensive music, fiction writing. I even took up south american dance! :) out of my usual element.

After being AF free for a year, I started to reintroduce competitive sports, but not in the way I used to - I'm no longer obsessed with winning, and I also take a quarter beta blocker before a game of squash or tennis, to reduce any possibility of going onto AF. I cycle daily and do mild weights (no need for beta blocker for that). I feel great, as though I am reversing the AF progression and increasing cardiac health. Ablation might also be in my future - no rush for now.

Everyone progresses differently, but those who develop AF out of over-exertion, with no other cardiac problems or risk factors, seem to be in a distinct category (see You have a great chance of knocking this on the head. Keep us updated on your ablation.


Thanks for some moral support! It's a funny think your identity isn't tied so closely to a certain thing (like excelling in athletics) and then you discover that a whole lot of your ego hung on that one peg. What a life lesson! Your journey of adaptation and resilience is hope-filled and I appreciate you sharing it with me.


Why are you having ablation so soon after diagnosis. What are your symptoms. I have just been diagnosed with svt and have had a fast heart rate that is noticeable only a couple of times in the last year. I am fully aware not to push myself too hard but it is difficult not to. Good luck with the ablation.


After wearing an event monitor for three weeks, it was apparent that I have a very irritated heart that was getting progressively worse. I am relatively young with a healthy heart, and although I respond to meds, the drugs are powerful chemicals with bad side effects and typically only work for a little while. SVT is a strong predictor for A Fib and is extremely uncomfortable, causing loss of sleep and anxiety. It feels almost worse than Afib because of the re-entry there is an angry squirrel in my chest. Here in the US, ablation has moved up to the first line of defense against Afib. I don't want to just wait until it's here, permanent, and harder to resolve. I intend to significantly modify my exercise afterwards...I now am positive that I pushed my heart way too hard in the months prior to the onset.

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