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RBrav, November 20,  2020  12:16am EST

Introducing self - 24 y.o. with complete heart block getting in shape!

Hi all! I thought I would introduce myself and I hope to be active here and offer support on and off. My name is Ray (short for Rachel), I'm a 24-year-old young professional who is in graduate school 3/4 time. 

My heart condition went undetected until I was 17, and I was starting to experience some nasty symptoms (dizziness, fainting, etc.). I could never participate in sports growing up because I was so slow and easily tired out, could never run fast or far, etc., but we all sort of assumed I was just very unathletic. I had a pacemaker inserted in 2014 and it has largely corrected the issue! 

I followed up with my cardio appts, etc. but as a 17-year-old I was pretty avoidant about the issue in general because it just felt overwhelming. I stayed more active, but didn't do anything specific for my heart. I knew deep down that I had a weak heart and needed to work on it, but didn't take action at that age.

Now, a couple months away from 25, I know I need to get serious about building cardiac health that will last a lifetime. On the advice of my cardiologist I've started an exercise routine which involves almost daily sustained aerobics, and at least 3x weekly weight training. I used to weightlift in college, so the strength training is going well, but I feel so behind on aerobics! I've been working on it seriously since August and progress feels very slow. I started with a 15-minute mile jogging in the target BPM, and in 3 months of almost daily cardio activity I'm now able to do a 14-minute mile in the target BPM. I will say, I went from struggling to do a mile to consistently running 2, which is a huge improvement. But it's difficult to see others even in my own family pick up running after me and be able to run faster, longer, etc. in a shorter amount of time... and their heart rates are lower! It just goes to show how far I have to go to get my heart in shape. 

I've also being consciously eating a more heart-healthy diet, and a diet more optimized for muscle development. High protein, lower sugar, and low amounts of processed food.

I'm grateful I'm able to be active at all, and grateful that I'm finally taking the opportunity to work on my health. It's hard to stick with it when it's going so slowly... but I suppose slow and steady wins the race. I'm hoping to do much better on my next stress test after sticking with this training routine! Maybe my cardiologist will be shocked!


4 Replies
  • JamesPL
    JamesPL, November 22,  2020  8:35am EST

    Hi Ray,

    Stick with it! That's the best advice I can give you. You're doing all the right things and that is so important and you have been well advised by your cardiologist. Keep it up. There are going to be days when you may not feel up to the task but don't let that defeat you. I typically write those days off as days I just didn't have it for whatever reason. Don't be caught up in how you perform either. I have never regretted getting in some exercise on a day I wasn't motivated even if I didn't perform well. As the old Nike slogan says "just do it". One thing I do to help me stay motivated is to mix things up. If it's a really nice day out I typically like to take a long bike ride. If it's a day that I'm just not motivated to run, I'll do some weight training and take a long brisk walk. On days of inclement weather, I'll jump on my eliptical trainer. I find that variety helps keep me moving. In the end, your heart will pay dividends for your daily activity no matter what that is.

    Good luck to you!


  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, November 23,  2020  10:00am EST

    This is very impressive and inspirational!  Keep up the good work. Best Katie

  • Caroline65
    Caroline65, January 21,  2021  12:11am EST

    Ray, greate that you have a good doctor and guiding you to a healthier you. But be sure to vizit the cardio every year. Have good helath insurance to keep your heart in check Good luck and keep l;istening to the body. Do not overdo and stay on that healthy diet. Good luck.


  • melliebelly3
    melliebelly3, January 22,  2021  12:36pm EST

    I am so glad you are takeing control of you're health and are feeling great. I am doing the same thing. I was born with tetrology of fellot in 1977 and have a pacemaker and 2 valve replacements. I do hitt work outs 3 to 4 times a week and i feel fantastic

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