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northernbear, August 4,  2020  4:13pm EST

Competitive Powerlifting, but now with AFIB

Hi all

I was a competing powerlifter until January when I had my first episode of AFIB, and it has been very scary since, with a difficult battle to get "stable"

Took a long time to get my blood pressure under control, etc.. and I have been doing about 45 minute a day of cardio but the doctor says I can resume weight training now just not go crazy.

I guess I am wondering if anyone has any experience training at competition levels with AFIB?

I am 50 years old and compete in Masters 2 drug tested IPF

I see other similar posts but no follow up, would love to hear from anyone who lifts big big weights...

Typically I would train in the 3 to 5 rep range, just before my first AFIB attack I was benching 345, deadlifting 545 and squating 415.

Are these kind of numbers possible now? They sure do strain the body training for them.... but I would like to resume.  I was on track for Canadian Nationals...



5 Replies
  • macaodha
    macaodha, August 5,  2020  6:26am EST

    G'Morning, Northern Bear ...

    I was in a similar situation about 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with AFib. I began lifting weights at 14 yrs old, & as I got older I entered amateur powerlifting.

    To make a long story short, the day I was diagnosed with AFib did eventually end my powerlifting heavy weights. I resisted for awhile thinking its OK for me, I'm in great shape, until 8 years ago when a very astute EP found during one of my exams that I ALSO have an Ascending Aortic Aneurysm at 3.2 cms dilated. He advised me to immediately stop all heavy weight programs and move to a lighter weight, higher repetitions program, which I've been doing ever since.

    I won't elaborate on what this Aneurysm is other than to say it's located in the Aorta of the heart and is characterized by a swelling and weakening in the Aorta wall. Needless to say, you don't want one to burst, as it's most likely a death sentence. Mine is under surveillance & has been stable at 3.2 cms for 6 yrs. If it ever gets to 5 or 6 cms, I will probably need surgery. Every 6 months I get an MRI to measure its size.

    I tell you all this to advise you to get tested for Aortic & Abdominal Aneurysms BECAUSE as I was told by my EP and 2 cardiologists, they're finding that the tremendous increase in pressure in the arteries during heavy weightlifting can over the years produce aneurysms within the arteries. 

    I've done extensive research since finding this out, and its convinced me to never lift heavy again, and of course as you & i both know, NEVER hold your breathe during the lift!

    I had a good friend since high school who dropped over dead from what was said to be a massive heart attack. No autopsy was performed, but I'm convinced he had an Aorta that burst. He was a fellow powerlifter, lifted very heavy, and in great shape.

    If you're interested in pursuing it further, Google 'powerlifting and aneurysms' or weightlifting and aneurysms'. And definitely talk to your cardiologist and/or EP about the link between AFib/Aortas and weightlifting. 

    ~ Mac

  • bfboca
    bfboca, August 6,  2020  8:10am EST

    Hi Mac.  You mention that you get an MRI every six months to check on your aortic aneurysm.  Do you also receive an ultrasound/sonogram?  Thanks.  Bob

  • macaodha
    macaodha, August 7,  2020  12:49pm EST

    Hi bfboca ... the docs usually rotate the tests between ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans every 6 mos, sometimes with a combo of an MRI & ultrasound or CT scan & ultrasound. When I went to the Cleveland Clinic (Ohio Campus) they performed all 3. At my last exam with my EP he said because the TAA has been stable at 3.2 cms for 6 years, he's going to change it to yearly instead of every 6 months.

    ~ Mac

  • bfboca
    bfboca, August 8,  2020  5:03am EST

    Hello again Mac.  Re: TAA.  Sure sounds like your medical community has kept a very close watch on your situation.  Happy for you that everything has been stable for some six years.  Your doctors moving follow-up from 6 months to 12 is confidence in your well being.  Bob

  • northernbear
    northernbear, September 21,  2020  3:10pm EST

    Hi macaodha

    Thanks for that reply.

    I am thinking you are perhaps right in that best to let the dream go

    I dont see a future training years of heavy singles or even triples

    But I could see a more bodybuilding type of set and rep scheme being beneficial and have longevity.  I guess Im never getting my four plate bench ill have to be satisfied with what I have accomplished.


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