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BillMintiens, August 8,  2019  7:55pm EST

Writing an article about Afib in older athletes (like me)

Greetings Afibbers,

I am newly diagnosed with Afib; and I'm also a freelance newspaper writer here in Central Oregon. I'm looking to get some feedback from other older endurance athletes (running, cycling, etc.) like me (I'm 66) who are dealing with Afib. Please comment with your age, your years with Afib, how you're delaing with it (medication or other treatments), and how it has helped you (or not.)


6 Replies
  • Spencer
    Spencer, August 8,  2019  7:59pm EST

    I was an ultra distance runner.  I am 51 and have had AFib for two years.  My cardiac medications gave me a great deal of side effects from dizzyness to shortness of breath.  Since my AFib operations, I have been unable to run.

  • JohnMiosh
    JohnMiosh, August 9,  2019  3:43am EST

    56 year old.

    Mainly cycling, club member/amateur racing since age 13.  Also swimming and endurance running (half marathon no triathlon.)

    AF started 2015, diagnosed 2016.

    Bisoprolol, Rivaroxiban, Cardioversion, Mini-maze, Amiodarone, Catheter ablation for AFlutter and complete maze lesion set. Now AF-free and off all medication.

    Bisoprolol made me worse than the AF.  Cardioversion was wonderful, instantly back to normal, but only lasted for two weeks. I spent a summer hiding from the sun on amiodarone, but thankfully had none of the side effects.

    Now back to normal, largely speaking.  I am cycling almost as much as before, but slower and with fewer hills.  No intention to compete again.

  • TR
    TR, August 9,  2019  8:06am EST


    Sorry to welcome you to the group. I'm 72 years old, was a distance runner for almost 40 years, and came down with AFIB when I was 68. I have had two ablations since, the second one was nineteen months ago which was successful and have had no AFIB at all since. I could have gone back to running, but after 40 years of it, my knees are fine for walking, but not able to take the pounding from running, so I start every day at six AM by walking seven miles in the Florida heat and humidity. My life has been restored to normal after the second ablation. Drugs never worked very well for me, especially anti arrythmics, which were totally useless for me.Here's a link which you may be interested to check out if you already haven't, about NBA players with AFIB.

    Can you tell me how tall you are and what your resting heartrate is? I am six feet tall and had a resting heartrate in the mid forties when I was running, it is now high forties to low fifties. I ask this because tall athletes who are highly trained are at a greater risk of AFIB. Although I can't back up with fact the following, it was explained to me by a person very knowledgeable about AFIB when I was in the hospital waiting for my second ablation.Here's what he said. The heart  beats are controlled by the sinal node. Other areas of the heart are capable of producing electrical signals which can interfere, sneak in to the signals of the sinal node and cause AFIB. Keep in mind that these extraneous signals are always there, and are trying to interfere with sinal node signals, but in a normal heart, the sinal node takes precedence and they are not able to take control and cause havoc.Look at an ECG showing each beat of the heart. Imagine one ECG of a person with a resting heartrate of 100, and another of someone with a heartrate of 60. Because one has so many more beats, there is a much smaller distance between each beat, and distance on an ECG represents time between beats. Now think of someone with a resting heartrate of 45, there is a much greater time between beats, representing a far greater opportunity for extraneous beats to slip in and cause havoc with the normal sinal node signals. So this is how heartrate is a factor in AFIB. Now for height. A typical NBA basketball player is a very large man, who would naturally have a larger heart than a smaller person. This creates a greater distance for the normal signals to travel from the sinal node, and now combine this with a highly trained athlete, this would cause the heart which is a muscle to grow in size and beat less, further enlarging the opportunity for AFIB to create it's havoc. To relate this to my own experience, I kept a detailed log of every AFIB episode I had for over two years. I was looking to identify triggers. AFIB is such a random disease, there wasn't a whole lot I could identify. However, at one point, twenty seven out of twenty eight episodes started in the late afternoon or early evening. I am extremely physically active from 6 AM until noon. After lunch I read books and have mimal activity. During this time, my heartrate would slow back into the forties, and this is when I was at much greater risk for AFIB, as the numbers showed. The only other trigger I could identify was dehydration, and possibly anxiety. So my experience falls in line with this type of reasoning. You can easily find literature about the higher risk of AFIB in tall athletes, but I haven't come up with any factual evidence of the other information I have written about. All I can say is it was told to me by a person very knowledgable about AFIB, it's logical, has anecdotal evidence to cofirm, and it matches my experience quite well. I thank God every day that I found the right doctor who has kept me out of AFIB for over 19 months. You might want to contact Steve Ryan, Steve is the author of "Beat Your AFIB" and he is an athlete who had a successful ablation 18 years ago and returned to running. Unfortunately, Steve's AFIB has returned after all these years and he is now preparing for another ablation. He is 78. Best of luck on your AFIB journey, and soory for the long post.


  • BillMintiens
    BillMintiens, August 9,  2019  11:24am EST

    Thanks so much to all three of you for the quick reply. Unless you specify otherwise (today) I may use some of your quotes in my article -- which will be published sometime soon in The Source Weekly newspaper here in Bend Oregon I won't identify you in any way that would compromise your privacy. And I will reply to your questions about my specific situation as well. Now two days on an anti-arrythmia medication.....we'll see.

    Much thanks, Bill

  • Spencer
    Spencer, August 10,  2019  6:48pm EST

    Bill - I have quite the story to tell if you need some material.  To go from a 50 mile trail race athelite to nothing in just a few months.  I also have pictures of the procedures if that helps.

  • BillMintiens
    BillMintiens, August 12,  2019  10:50am EST

    Thanks Spencer but unfortunately I ran up against a publishing deadline and had to move quickly. I would be interested in reading your story, however, if you care to email it to me. . Thanks!


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