I don't understand

I don't understand...most guys on here, and maybe some women, have been working out, lifting weights, running etc  BEFORE it is determined they need a pm. So where does these bad hearts come from? It seems to me like those who exercise are taking good care of themselves, should have a good heart also? Has anyone else thought of this?


I Don't Understand

by bobrichards55 - 2021-02-11 15:00:30

Hi Alli,

I have also wondered the same thing.  In a lot of cases people do not have a bad heart muscle but poor electrical systems, like mine, which requires a pacemaker.  My cardiologist says that my issue (some irregular heart beat and intermittent heart block) are the "better" type of heart problem than weak heart muscle or blocked arteries.

I have noticed that a lot of endurance athletes also have heart irregularities. No doctor has been able to explain this to me either.  Maybe the strain of training has taken its toll.  I used to run 10 km races, a few marathons, played hockey for almost 60 years, kept my weight and colesterol down and still have issues.  Who knows??



Too much of a good thing ?

by IAN MC - 2021-02-11 15:33:09

There is stacks of evidence that exercise is good for you BUT there is growing evidence that too much endurance exercise can increase your chances of developing heart arrythmias later in life.

It has always struck me , too , that a disproportionately high number of pacemaker club members have a history of above-average levels of exercise.... Marathon runners / high-level cyclists and triathletes are all statistically over-represented here  IMHO.

There is an excellent book, " The Haywire Heart "  , co-authored by an American cardiologist, Dr John Mandrola,  which confirms the link between excessive exercise and  the development of cardiac electrical problems later in life.

I used to be an obsessive distance-runner myself and it was evident that the people who push their hearts the hardest are the  "exercise-obsessives" in their 50s and 60s. Who knows what their futures will bring ? 

But, without any doubt,   EXERCISE IN MODERATION IS GOOD FOR YOU !!!


taking care of yourself

by Tracey_E - 2021-02-11 16:27:30

Eating right keeps the arteries clear. Exercise keeps the heart muscle strong. Electrical problems are unrelated to either of those. In my case, I was born with my electrical issues. And taking care of yourself is never a guarantee nothing is going to happen to you, it simply increases your chances. 

Oh if only I knew

by Gemita - 2021-02-11 16:37:35

Good question Alli.  I often wonder why I have electrical heart disturbances when I live such a disciplined, healthy life, but perhaps that is the problem?   Maybe too much of a good thing and I need to let my hair down a bit from time to time.  Who knows?   But I won’t change my ways now, will I?

So much can affect our hearts - from health conditions we are born with (genetics) or develop over a life time, to lifestyle, to ageing itself..  For instance some of us are born with a heart abnormality, through no fault of our own, so yes it is hard to understand.  But there are some triggers that we can control which may lead to structural/electrical heart problems and most of us know what they are, don’t we.  But shall I remind us?

Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, using illegal drugs

Drinking too much caffeine, possibly triggering arrhythmias

Eating unhealthily leading to diabetes, heart disease

Too much stress which can cause heart disease

Being overweight and not exercising leading to heart disease

Uncontrolled high blood pressure leading to heart disease and other serious health problems

But of course there are so many additional health conditions that we may develop over a lifetime through no fault of our own, not lifestyle related, which can affect our hearts - like inflammation, an autoimmune condition, a severe infection.

I too have heard that too much exercise can lead to changes in heart structure (enlargement), and can also cause arrhythmias.  It is all about finding the right balance in life, which I am still searching for!


Too much

by AgentX86 - 2021-02-11 16:46:58

The theory is that most heart problems are hereditary but like everything else, heredity only explains part of the equation. Lifestyle exacerbates the situation. Some sloths will never get cancer or heart disease. Some is chance but if you look at family history, you'll likely see a lower than normal incidents of these diseases. This is why doctors ask about family history. It gives them a heads up to what to look for with your health. Someone with no incidence of heart disease in their family may be at a lesser risk with cholesterol levels of 200, for instance. Doctors will beat them up for something else.  ;-)

The theory behind the high incidence of electrical problems of the heart in endurance athletes is similar to the problems untreated Afib patients have but sorta in reverse. Untreated Afib can cause cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), which causes fibrosis of the heart muscle. These fibers conduct electrical signals, which worsen Afib. Afib begets Afib.

Endurance sports causes the heart muscle to become stronger and larger, similar to cardiomyopathy, also causing fibrosis thus Afib.

As an aside, Dr. Mandrola isn't thought very highly of (to put it nicely) in Afib circles.



I wish I knew

by Aberdeen - 2021-02-11 17:12:12

I had been a gym member for 12 years doing various classes and enjoyed walking and keeping busy. I had excellent cholesterol levels. I had to get a pacemaker due to bradycardia.BPM 36-40. 

I look back over my lifestyle and sometimes think ‘what could I have changed?’ I was 64 when diagnosed. Old but not that old. My heart was in good shape but not the electrical signals to it

Just bad luck?

family of arrhythmias

by Julros - 2021-02-11 17:21:59

I believe my aflutter is attributal to heredity. My heart is otherwise heathy. While I have enjoyed various forms of fitness for many years I certainly would not call myself an extreme athlete. I never knew my paternal grandmother but through geneology I know that she died of a stroke at at 50. I was diagnosed at age 62 (and had a small stroke), my sister at age 65, and my son at age 35. One might consider son to be an extreme type of athlete. However, he has had genetic testing that showed a genetic abnormality and now has an ICD. 

I suppose we have the back luck of choosing the wrong relatives. 


by AgentX86 - 2021-02-11 22:27:25

As they say, "Choose your parents wisely.".

No research to back my view

by quikjraw - 2021-02-12 05:39:11

Disclaimer - I have not looked into whether this has any validity.

I understand fully that bones and muscle respond extremely well to mechanical stress. You stress a bone it gets stronger as do muscles.

With exercises like running (load bearing) the elite runners are on the knife edge between overtraining and supreme success. I remember a coach on the radio saying the key to success is training as hard as possible but not getting injured. They stress their bones out so much that they can get stress fractures (even at their low bodyweights) if they do not have sufficient rest and nutrition. All that said, these "injuries" nearly always reverse to full function.

The heart's conduction system seems different to that effect to my very inexperienced and non-medical eyes. 

If people are born with heart conduction issues and perfectly fit and healthy people get it also it would seem there must be both a genetic and environmental factor. I understand people can be born with issues that are also fully environmental in cause. (like issues caused smoking and drinking during pregnancy). 

I will have a read of the study mentioned by you Ian MC to see what the conclusions were. If high endurance exercise/heart conduction issues did have a high dose-response then wouldn't we see huge numbers of olympic athletes with heart conduction issues ? Is it is just an correlation rather than a confirmed causation at this stage?

Also - how would such a study rule out other possible causes of heart conduction issues? I have an autoimmune disease but have still managed to do a fair bit of exercise in my life. Some people could have autoimmune issues but not know it? My sister (who also runs) had what she thought was severe eczema for over 10 years and had has only now found out (at 41) that it is not eczema but an autoimmune disease called lupus that has caused psiorisis. 

Quikjraw / John...... the evidence

by IAN MC - 2021-02-12 10:20:30

You ask why we are not seeing olympic athletes with heart conduction issues ... the simplest answer is that follow-up studies probably have never been done !  but they have in Scandinavia :-

On the first Sunday in March in Vasaloppet  in Sweden , there is a 56 mile cross-country  ski race which attracts over 50,000 entrants ( crazy lot, the Swedes ! ) . It is an undulating, gruelling course and has been held for almost a hundred years.

In 2013, 52,000 skiers who had previously finished the event were studied.. Their cardiac issues were monitored over a 10 yr period by a group of researchers. The conclusions were :-

- 919 of the skiers had developed atrial fibrillation

- 2 factors increased the chances of A.F.... the number of times doing the race and a faster finishing time.

Racers who completed five races were 29% more likely to develop AF than those who had only done one.

Athletes with the fastest finishing time were 30% more likely to have AF than those in the slowest group !

This is just one of the many epidemiological studies which have been published looking at the cardiac follow-up of athlete populations. There are countless other animal and human studies which confirm the link between excessive exercise and arrythmias.

In the book which you have promised to read, there are 63 references following the chapter outlining " the evidence"





by quikjraw - 2021-02-13 12:41:03

Ian it's an amazing study. I found it on the BMJ website.

I have not had chance to check the X axis of the U shape association mentioned in the report for arrhythmia risk.

I assume this means that with little to no exercise your risk is similar to that have someone performing high levels of endurance exercise? Does this suggest, for arrhythmia only if you stay below a certain amount of exercise your risk of arrhythmia is lower than doing little exercise.

In the present study, higher exercise capacity and higher muscle strength in late adolescence were independently associated with lower risk of subsequent vascular disease in this large cohort of young men. We observed a U shaped association of exercise capacity with arrhythmia, driven by a direct association with risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter and by a U shaped association with bradyarrhythmia. Higher muscle strength was associated with lower risk of arrhythmia, driven by a lower risk of bradyarrhythmia and ventricular arrhythmia. The combined associations of high exercise capacity and high muscle strength versus low exercise capacity and low muscle strength with lower risk of vascular disease were prominent. The lower risk of vascular events with higher exercise capacity did not seem to be outweighed by increased risk of arrhythmia. Generalisability to women is unknown and equivalent data for women are needed.

I don't understand

by sandoval - 2021-02-14 15:07:47

I had a Heart attack 20 years ago and Diabetes followed soon after, or so I thought. Turns out you have had Diabetes for 10 years when you are diagnosed as diabetic. 95% of Heart problems can be linked to Insulin resistance but most people don't know they have it because prevention is not in the interests of pharma companies. Best way to find out is the Kraft insulin test but the NHS don't do it - you have to go private.An  Arteriograph can tell if your arteries stiffness matches your age but that is also not on the NHS. A Calcium scan score can tell if you are likely to have a heart attack in the near future (presidents and astronauts have to have it)  but again that is not on the NHS. So it seems there are ways to find eventualities but not for the general public.


by AgentX86 - 2021-02-14 17:07:39

Large muscle development and high endurance are two very different things.  Both are important and both can be overdone and damage the body (both short term and long term) but the results are different.  It's best to do both, moderately.  Both are a 'U' shape curve, sorta, but they're different and will have different consequences.

It's said by some that 1/2 hour per day is good enough cardio exercise to get most of the benefits of exercise and others say it's 1/2 hour three days a week.  The idea may be that something is better than nothing and it's really not that hard to start.  Some will go nuts with it (or so I've been told ;-).


by BatteryPwrd - 2021-02-16 10:16:46

Stress that never got less set the stage for my need of a PM. Stress can and will kill. But for those of us that refuse to die at the hands of someone, it disables one in many ways.  Married 37 years to and In business with a Narcissist will do it.  I am convinced her narcissitic personality and the stress it caused me is what broke my heart requiring a Pacmaker . After a need for and getting a second PM, she did not want me to have or get, after 4 years of separation hearing nothing from her. I am doing fine now. Very Soon I will finally be free / divorced and able to start living the life the Lord had prepared for me before her. Becareful what and who you commit yourself to. Love should not cause stress.

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Yesterday was my first day mountain biking after my implant. I wiped out several times and everything is fine. There are sports after pacemakers!