Outdoor Solution for Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat is extremely common, generally harmless and tends to occur more often as we age.  However,  if these irregular heartbeats become severe or continue for long enough,  they can deprive the body of oxygen leading to all kinds of complications – including death.

One type of arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation or A-Fib.  With A-Fib the upper chambers of the heart beat very rapidly and don’t pump the blood properly.  This can cause the blood to pool and clot.  If a clot breaks free it can lead to a stroke.  Patients with this condition are often prescribed Coumadin (aka Warfarin – a rat poison) to thin the blood and prevent clotting.  A daily baby aspirin is a safer alternative for some people.

Here’s how my episode of A-Fib went.  I was lying in bed and noticed my heart was going too fast.  No symptoms other than that.  I got up and began feeling nauseous and light headed.  I barely made it back to bed without passing out.  I could sit up ok, although to move around I had to repeatedly walk a few steps and sit down for a couple minutes to avoid passing out.  I made it to the car and my wife drove me to the hospital.  There they applied an electrical shock, just like you see with heart attack victims on TV.  That got my heart back to a normal rhythm.  I was then scheduled for an ablation where a surgeon runs an electrode from the femoral artery near the groin to the heart and essentially burns out some of the electrical circuitry in the heart to prevent errant signals from causing A-Fib.

That didn’t work out, so, while I was still on the table, they installed a pacemaker.  The pacemaker has programming that will sense A-Fib and immediately apply electrical charges to break the errant rhythm and get things quickly back to normal. That has been working ok for me for over five years now.

Now, to the point of this story . . .  the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that Australian researchers had found that among people that had an ablation procedure, those that aggressively attacked their risk factors were 5 times more likely to be alive after five years with resolved heart rhythm issues.  Risk factors include: overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, sleep apnea (another of my issues), smoking and drinking.

So, once again the best thing you can do for yourself is get into shape and getting outdoors is a great way to get there!

Has getting outdoors done anything for your heart issues?  Share your story by replying to this post.

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