Anyone run despite having heart problems?

Anyone on here run despite having heart problems? I spent a couple hours in the ER last night, being checked out for heart attack symptoms (I’m 31), and I’ve struggle with atrial fibrillation since I was pregnant with my 5 year old. The doc said everything looked fine but he wants me to consult with a cardiologist. When he saw my 10k medallion on my phone, he acted shocked that I could run a 10k with my condition. At first, I was flattered, but then I started wondering if my dream of competing in an Iron Man would ever become a reality. I am going to try cutting caffeine and all sugar from my diet. It seems to come in spells, and it’s been worse lately. I am just feeling my dreams of being able to compete in big races is in serious jeopardy.
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I myself dont have any current problems but see a lot of heart attack survivors at races. Yep, they admit it and proudly wear shirts that say so. cannot recall where

I know a few people who run to prevent cardiovascular problems. But I also know people who have died running because of heart conditions… It’s a tough call….

Thank you! I will definitely be calling some of their referrals today. It was really scary yesterday, I am still pretty raw from the experience. I know I have strengthened my heart, when I started, I couldn’t run a mile without going into a-fib, and it’s much less common now, but the thought of having a serious problem is scary. Dying is definitely not something I want to risk.

Running if used correctly is a great therapy for cardiovascular issues. Please consult with a doctor how to use training to manage your problems. Don’t go out and do your own thing, that could be very dangerous and potentially fatal.

I do hope it all works out and you can continue to run! You may need to go slower and shorter, but before you do, i agree with everyone’s caution, do see a doctor, preferably a runner him/herself

I have high blood pressure and minimal issue with an enlarged heart. My doc is happy that I am active and just recommended to listen to my body. If I feel tired, I need to slow down not push through. Also, increasing any activities like training for a longer distance needs to be done gradually.

Make sure you ask if they deal with sports medicine and/or athletes. Docs that don’t exercise shouldn’t be telling you what you can/can’t do! You rock, momma!

Thank you everyone! I never even thought to consider the doctors specialty with athletes. I will definitely be asking about that. The ER doc was a runner so talking to him was really easy. He suggested finding a doc that will do a halter EKG for 48 hours and a treadmill test. So, now I know what to look for. I have been trying to increase gradually, but I’m bad about going gung-ho when I have a good run, or pushing through a high heart rate. I need to be better about not risking it. This might be the wake up call I needed.

I coached a runner this past winter who had a pacemaker. Mainly they had to really pay attention to how they were feeling and make adjustments. Some days were just fine, others they struggled with pacing and distance. It is definitely possible, but you may not be able to do it like you would like to as far as pace, etc…

My dad had high blood pressure that went untreated at a young age. He also ended up with high cholesterol. At 41 he had open heart surgery. A stint at 51. And he passed away at 60 while running on the treadmill. He started running after his first surgery, and it gave him 19 more years with our family. His cardiologist also believed the running didn’t cause his heart atk that killed him (his only one), but that it would have happened regardless of where he was at the time.

Afib is very different from his problems though. So wait and see your cardiologist, and if he approves it you’ll know each run you’re doing something to help your health.


It’s good to know it can be done! I definitely can say there are good days and bad. I live in a very hilly area so it’s really hard to have an “easy run”.

Just a heads up about triathlons… Read up on the swim and death. There are many theories about why the uptick in swim related tri death but a combo of tight wetsuits,stress and cold water are being blamed as well as underlying heart conditions. I would run it by you doctor just to be safe before doing an IM. Also google SIPE. Swim induced pulmonary edema. Not trying to be a downer. Sounds like you’re pretty awesome.

I had open heart 11yrs and 6 marathons ago for a bad valve and septal defect. Check with your cardiologist. Make sure your heart is functioning properly. You can do this.

Thank you guys! It’s really uplifting, knowing this isn’t just a sport for people with perfect health. I will definitely look into that. My goal for the iron man is still over two years away, so I will have time to build up, I’m doing my first sprint in a few weeks, but I’ll definitely bring that up at my appointment!

Definitely a cardiologist. They’ll be able to find out the reason for the afib too and sometimes it can be corrected. Any new onset of a cardiac condition warrants a visit anyhow, would not just take it as your new norm.

I did my first sprint last year and doing 3 this year. I don’t know if I could ever do an IM. Toying with a half iron. My GP is a cardiologist and his wife used to do them. He thinks it’s awesome but I only have a mytriol valve prolapse.
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It’s astounding, how many heart conditions there are! Do you alter your training at all, for yours?

I was recently diagnosed after having an abnormal EKG, with a Left Branch Bundle Block… Nothing to worry about says Cardiologist, so I keep running.

I’m so glad it’s not a risk for you! Just gives you an extra edge, right!

It freaked me out at first and had to have a bunch of tests done and this 2 days before my first half marathon… lol it all worked out

Mine is nothing. Used to have to take antibiotics before dental visits but no longer. Never been an issue. Just makes my mom feel better that my regular doc also does hearts.

I had heart palpitations after running my last half. The cardiologist said my heart is ok and eventually the palpitation will go away as I am getting older. It was really bad at night time. Since then I cut back on caffeine (never drank soda and now only drink decaf), dont stress and follow a more balanced diet (I completely eliminated carbs before…)Anyway, changing your diet should help, but definitely see a doc and wear a HR monitor. Take care and listen to your body.

Thank you! It’s good to know I’ve made smart choices for elimination, I mean obviously, but if they worked for you, that’s a good sign! I could never eliminate carbs, but I can make smarter choices.
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Are a chronic a-fibber, or just paroxysmal? On anti-coagulants? I’m surprised that if you have had a-fib in the past your internal med/gp doesn’t want you followed by a cardiologist. Please get in to see one and get checked out. (not preaching, just a concerned cardiac/surgical nurse!)

I just have bouts of it, so that’s the paroxysmal, right? The first I’d heard of that was yesterday. I was suppose to stay current with a cardiologist, but I haven had insurance, and I’ve made stupid sacrifices. I’m going to get all that worked out, and I will get in to see one. I was told I was normal and didn’t need asa everyday, but they recommended two baby aspirins a day, till I see the cardiologist.


Were you actually diagnosed with it by a MD looking at an EKG/telemetry tracing? I don’t want to scare you but afib is nothing to mess with. Or, are you having feelings of your heart racing? Is your rhythm regular or not? A fast rhythm can be plain old sinus tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia, atrial tach, afib with rapid vent response, etc…but need to see your rythym on an EKG/telemetry tracing for definite diagnosis. If you are “going in and out of something” that is where the Holter Monitor comes in handy…you wear it for a few days and press the button if you “feel” anything. When the monitoring period ends, your doc painstakingly looks thru the tracings for any events! I’ve had to wear a Holter Monitor before and it picked up I had a few “pauses”, along with some tachycardia, so my meds were adjusted.

I have PSVT – which is basically a heart condition that feels like a sudden panic attack not triggered by panic and usually triggered instead by exercise. Oddly enough, it hasn’t happened to me during running, but has occasionally happened while working out. I quit drinking soda a year and a half ago though and that helped tremendously.

fore, the diagnosis came from me being admitted to the hospital in active a-fib 5 years ago. That was the only time I had to have medical intervention to stop it. I saw a cardiologist for a year after that and they told me everything was normal.The EKG was totally normal yesterday, the tachycardia was even gone by the time they did it. I have never been on meds for it. I’m definitely cutting out sodas and tea! Hopefully that’ll help!

I’ll never forget, waddling into the ER and the nurse hooking me up and, right in front of me, saying, “yep, that a-fib alright, we’ve never treated it in a pregnant woman before”.

I don’t have a-fib but I do have PSVT. I’ve had heart rates in the 200’s Definitely cut caffeine and absolutely no energy drinks. Best to cut out alcohol completely but drink very little if you choose to partake of an adult beverage. Good to cut out sugar as well. I take toprol for my PSVT and I often use a heart rate monitor while training. Be sure to warm up and cool down THOROUGHLY and try not to run in really hot conditions. Keep hydrated and replace electrolytes as needed. If you feel dizzy or nauseated or have serious palpitations stop running until you recover. Make sure you have a way to call for help. A road ID is handy as well. Some people do require a cardiac ablation but the good news is many people successfully run with a tachyarythmia. I saw a cardiologist and had underlying heart disease ruled out first and he gave me the okay as long as I did everything I stated. Oh and I have successfully run marathons and half marathons. I know of a couple of people who had a-fib treated with ablations or medications who have competed in many races. Don’t give up. People can and do race with this. You just have to be sensible.

I cut caffeine today, and not sugar completely, but I cut back. I am definitely NOT one that drinks energy drinks and, very rarely, alcohol, so I’m good there! It’s so uplifting to know that others have had success running through these things. I know it’s getting better, so I have to believe I can continue to strengthen my heart!!! Thank you for the info, and I’m definitely going to ask about the cardiologists range with athletes!

I have PSVT also. I have always had a high heart rate but although I was thin I chalked it up to inactivity. I had several mild episodes that I ignored and got through but when I was 32 weeks pregnant I started having severe chest pains and was rushed to the ER and my heart rate was 278, incompatible with life. I had to undergo cardioversion. Since then I have been very prone to SVT episodes, some not so bad but some scary. I have a cardiologists that keeps close tabs on me and I wear a holter monitor once a year. I love running but am so afraid of it. I slow at the first sign of tightness and therefore I feel like I don’t progress at all. I run in fear basically. I try not to but after almost dying I’m some what of a worrier now. My caidio encourages my running but tells me to let my body be my guide and if I feel bad then back off. I loved seeing your post and knowing that someone else deals with this and is successful! You give me hope I’m going to have to eventually have ablation done but I’m putting it off as long as he tells me I can get away with it.

Please see a cardiologist. It’s not worth the risk of not being followed up on and it might save your life. I reiterate what was said in one of the above post, we’re not being pushy but we’re wanting you to see a cardio because we care


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