Scott Drum November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Heart Stopping - Page 3

"Not only did the risks scare me, however small—I could end up on a pacemaker for the rest of my life—but it also seemed so strange to be doing this kind of intervention," says Fanselow. "It was like my heart was trying desperately to tell me something, and I was just shoving a sock in its mouth and saying, `Shut up and keep working as hard as I need you to!' In the end I felt that my love for hard running was just too much a part of my DNA, and I scheduled the procedure."

The procedure was a success, and after seven days of no running post ablation, as per doctor's orders, Fanselow resumed training. Ten days later at Run Rabbit Run, he finished a very strong second overall, in 7:22:57, behind ultramarathon wonder boy Geoff Roes, who set a new course record of 7:11:36.

"I had been given a second chance," says Fanselow. "I watched my heart rate very carefully during the race—it beat like a Swiss clock the whole time."

Because of a lack of large epidemiological research studies, the correlation between long-term endurance sports practice and the prevalence of AFL and atrial fibrillation remains to be elucidated.

From my own perspective as a 40-year-old endurance athlete, with 30 years of hard training under my belt, I may have to keep tabs on my heart rate, but the thought of no exercise or cutting back on my training leaves me breathless. It's in our DNA, as Fanselow says, to seek out active lifestyles and challenge ourselves.

Scott Drum, 40, is an Associate Professor of Exercise & Sport Science at Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison. He's also a semi-competitive trail runner, trying to delay Father Time by chasing the young, fast guys in town.


Risk Factors and Warning Signs Related for AFL

  • Male, 40-plus years old
  • Chronic, hard endurance exerciser
  • Psychologically addicted to endurance training
  • Unexpected or unusual and sustained, rapid/high (> 120 bpm) heart rate post hard exercise
  • Diagnosed atrial enlargement
  • Low resting heart rate (indicating high vagal tone)


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