Exercise Induced Atrial Fibrillation

By Peg Labiuk | 03/28/11

TRAINING CORNER

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Voler E-mail list member Jim Datsko is our 71st winner of a $20 Voler gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Exercise Induced Atrial Fibrillation

Hi,

Just wondering if you've heard of other long time endurance athletes encountering exercise-induced A-Fib, e.g. xc skiers and bike racers of 25-30 year sports duration?

As most of the mentors I've looked up to over the decades encountered it in their 60's, and now at that age myself I finally encountered it also. Cardiologists are basically clueless, but there are a large number of medical journal studies on this that I've collected from around the world in my large 3-ring binder in my own quest to discover the real cause of this and natural ways to avoid it.

Still looking for a natural way to avoid the exercise-induced A-fib in case others you work with have succeeded in that?

My younger brother was an alternate on the US Olympic Cycling Team nearly 40 years ago (trained under Mike Walden of The Wolverine Sports Club) and even he is experiencing a little A-Fib if he rides hard for any distance which he rarely does anymore.

Take care,
Jim

Jim,

When I received your question, I couldn't think of anyone better acquainted with this area of physiology than my coach and Cardio-vascular Physiologist, Dr. Len Goodman:

"As far as the Atrial Fibrillation in athletes: I've heard of the phenomenon in long-term athletes, but mostly in the near-retirement group - vs. active competitive young athletes. It's not too uncommon. What is not understood is why long-term endurance athletes, (and not just cyclists - it shows up in the running community too), may present with an arrhythmia, and the actual pathophysiology. Atrial fib is not life-threatening, but is still a concern, and needs to be properly diagnosed, controlled by meds, or ultimately, a procedure called 'ablation" where the over-excited cardiac conduction tissue is treated by a type of cauterization. I don't' know if the literature is citing a real trend in the incidence of AF in former highly trained endurance athletes, or that the incidence of reporting is increasing due to the greater numbers of aging endurance athlete/baby boomers (?). It's a good question."

Seems like this is another area that we have the questions, but science doesn't have the answers yet. I'll be in touch with any updated information.

Coach Peg

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