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outspokn, November 26,  2017  5:41am EST

Lifelong Athlete - Newly Diagnosed

I am a 67 yr old male who has been riding bicycles since my mid-30's and was diagnosed last week. My cardiologist has me on atenolol (25mg) flecainide (50mg bid) and Pradax (150mg). I have read the Haywire Heart. While I do not rise to the level of an elite or masters athlete, I have been riding my bike 5-6,000 miles a year. 

I started the meds 5 days ago. I have been out on my bike twice and it feel lke I have aged a decade overnight. The atenolol had dropped my resting heart rate to mid-30's. When riding, if my  heart rate gets anywhere near 100, it feels like I am back limbing the alps. As a result, I am seriously considering ablation. I know it is not guaranteed but what in life is. 

I have two questions. First will my body adjust to these drugs and will I be able to ride somewhere near my former self while taking them? Second, I am somewhat mobil and going out of network doesnt scare me. So I would appreciate hearing about ablation experiences good or bad and the hospitals where you had yours done. 

Thanks for your help.

  • Rbrandt
    Rbrandt, November 26,  2017  5:17pm EST
    Outspoken, first off welcome and glad your here.  I was put on Flecainide (100mg) bid to help convert me and hold me in nsr after I was converted a second time.  I know it took me 3-4 months before I really fully adjusted to my afib meds (I'm also on Eliquis - I was started on Metoprolol but that I couldn't tolerate it and had to quit it about 3 - 4 weeks later).  Thankfully I've stayed in NSR for right at 23 months now but after a little over a year on Flecainide I had to quit it due to side effects.  Other members here have successfully taken Flecainide with no problems. So like Afib we're all unique and how afib and/or its treatments work or dont work for us is very individualistic. I would say however at least in my experience there dose seem to be a period of adjustment for our bodies to get aquatinted with what ever medicine were prescribed. Also once I was use to the Flecainide and Eliquis my energy and endurance was pretty much normal again.  Just make sure you stay hydrated! Hopefully you will get to where you feel good doing your activities.  Wishing you all the best. May we all have NSR Roy
  • jvang
    jvang, November 26,  2017  10:01pm EST
    Outspokn.  Never had an ablation so not experienced but reading posts on this forum, it would appear this is not necessarily a cure all and many are still on drugs after as well.  My suggestion would be to first try different medicines in consultation with your doc of course. But we all seem to react differently to different drugs. Resting heart rate of 30 sounds low to me but maybe being an athlete yours tends to be lower? But could the atenolol be the cause? I am on flecainide without atenolol (my blood pressure is generally on low side so beta blockers were not considered a good idea) and do not have energy level problems (so far touch wood!). But there are other possible drugs for controlling AFib. Trick is to find one that least impacts on other aspects. Early days but good luck and keep us posted.  We all learn so much from each others experiences.
  • mikelipsky
    mikelipsky, November 27,  2017  1:31am EST
    There’s a 70 year old in my gym who takes Metoporol and still spars regularly in boxing and jiu-jitsu with guys decades younger (and does well!). I found when I was on it, I also had a huge decrease in performance in the bike. Easy spinning felt like lactate threshold. Forget sprints, couldn’t do them. I had an ablation a little over a year ago and am not on any meds. No episodes either. I had it done by Dr. Era  Zacks at St. Mary’s Hospital in PA. Dr. Zacka is a Stanford Med grad and did his residency at Weil Cornell in NY (I think he was chief resident). He is very thorough and reassurIng. The procedure took 8 hours. He’s also a committed runner and has other athlete patients. I’m 53, BTW.
  • Thumper2
    Thumper2, November 27,  2017  1:46am EST
    Outspokn, you might try the research I always recommend:  Go to the StopAFib page, AFibTown (it should be at the top of this page).  In the Search box, type in "ablation," and you should get a great number of messages on this topic.  People have discussed many different aspects of it, and I hope you will find some of them to be of help.  Personally, I always believe that sooner is much better than later, in getting an ablation.  All the best,Thumper2 (Judy)
  • yuri
    yuri, November 27,  2017  4:29am EST
    Outspoken. First of all if you do not have any symptoms of Afib and do not feel it why take drugs? Second, your type of Afib looks like vagal, and in this case your treatment wrong, in vagal type of Afib beta blockers will make it worse, and obviously you already feel it on yourself. You have to find a good doctor first
  • libbylu
    libbylu, November 27,  2017  7:12am EST
    Dear Outspoken,i know you’re probably a bit “freaked out” about your new diagnosis, I congratulate you on being in such great shape at age 67. A few things come to mind as I’m offering to help navigate your journey, firstly, you will find this site invaluable, full of great info from us that have been through it. I think it would be helpful if you could narrow down the area of the country you’re in; there are a lot of great med. centers, Cleveland Clinic being one of the primos. I would also suggest , if you aren’t already,  getting a consult from a top electrophysiologist who will evaluate your meds for one;  having your HR down to 30 seems perhaps like the meds need adjusting. The very best on your AFib quest.
  • Barrytoo
    Barrytoo, November 27,  2017  10:35am EST
    OUTSPOKN, When I was diagnosed with A-fib in March, I was in excellent health due to exercise and diet.  My resting rate was spot on 60.  My cardiologist and electrophysiologist both recommended not using drugs to control the A-fib because it would lower my heart rate.  They recommended an RF Ablation.  They did it August 31st, and I am in NSR.  I have great energy levels and excercise hard.
  • cheftheo
    cheftheo, November 27,  2017  11:45am EST
    Hi,I just had an ablation two weeks ago tomorrow. I'm 49, active cyclist such as yourself, very fit, healthy, no stroke risks or other health problems my entire life. This aFib hit me out of no where and really threw my life into a tailspin for the last 2 years. I too read Haywire Heart. I never took the drug route. I did a pill-in-pocket strategy taking diltiazem as needed when I was having an episode. Not sure that it really helped at all. I have been in NSR since Tuesday the 14th. My heart rate is currently a bit higher than I am used to, but am told this is just my heart adjusting to the new environment. I cycled for the first time on Saturday and it felt great! Stayed in the 135-140 bpm range and never threw myself into aFib like what would happen in the past. Research as much as you can and talk to a couple EPs that you respect. I did a cryo-ablation, outpatient procedure (neat Medtronic video on YouTube) I was sore for a couple days and was able to resure normal lifestyle about a week ago. This site is a great source of info, dig around and find the good stuff.Stay positive, relief is attainable.Theo
  • Dangh
    Dangh, November 27,  2017  12:20pm EST
    I am 63 years old and have had vagal AFib for 6 years. Started biking, running,swimming, etc about 37 years ago. I did triathlons for over 20 years, the last one in 2011 resulted in my first AFib episode. I had no idea what was going on, freaked me out. Well after a cardiologist visit (happens to be a friend from my gym) he prescribed Propanolol. I only use it when having an episode. I also read "The Haywire Heart". The takeawy from that would be that strenuous exercise can be bad for you, moderate exercise can be better in many ways. Guys like us will probably never be able to push the limits like we were used to. You can still workout of course, just back it down a bit. My routine consists of a lot of cross training. Yoga is big for me now. Swimming, weights, biking still, however I walk instead of run.Having said all this, I have become a firm believer in Magnesium. All the strenuous working out depletes the body of Magnesium. It is the main ingredient in the heart's ability to send electrical impulses, which as you know, go haywire causing AFib.I read Dr. Carolyn Dean's "The Magnesium Miracle". I use her products ReMag and ReMyte Also take Magnesium Taurate a couple of time a day, probably 500-600mg total. I also eat a lot of Magnesium rich foods. Knock wood, havent had an episode in almost 3 months. My cardiologist and my wife's gave their blessings/approval about taking Magnesium.Good Luck
  • Lolo
    Lolo, November 28,  2017  7:12am EST
    Outspokn:  I was an endurance athlete while my knees were still good, and continue to do as much as I can. When I was first put on Toprol, I could not tolerate it. My cardiologist changed my betablocker to Bystolic, which I am better able to tolerate. Flecanaide took a while to adjust. I believe that both of these medications limit my energy level and exercise capacity, and I would love to stop. I am happy to hear great stories of ablation obviating the need for meds, but I don't want anyone sticking a probe in my beating heart unless there are no other options.Good luck and good health!
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