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How does one Exercise with AFIB/PAC's/anxiety?
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How does one Exercise with AFIB/PAC's/anxiety?

I need to exercise and lose some weight. I have AFIB and PAC's. My afib has only happened 3 times in 5 years.
My problem is, when I start riding my stationary bike or take the dogs for a walk I'm hyper-sensitive to my heart rate
I'm overly aware of it and of course it starts taking off from my adrenaline rush. Hell, I'm either 1 minute into the ride or not even out of my driveway with the dogs when I feel I need to stop.
The point of exercise is to get your heart rate up, but certainly not like this.
I also read  that people go into AFIB or feel more PAC's when cool down AFTER the workout.
That doesn't help my outlook on each session....
How do those of you who have these arrhythmia's get past this.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts
Mike
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17 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
Hey Mike
Yeah I had afib also and was a guy that liked to exercise also. Having afib does make you feel like your up against a wall. Damned if you do and damned if you don't kind of thing. I liked arerobic workouts prior to my afib but felt it was actually detrimental to my heart after I got it, so I didn't workout.

The first thing you need to tackle is getting your heart back in rythum thru cardioversion,meds or some sort of invasive procedure. You probably have looked into this some already. But once I got control initially through meds I could workout again and felt it was benefiting my body/heart. Once the meds pretty much ran their coarse, took a year, I looked into a more invasive procedure. See my thread " I had the 5 box Thoracoscopic" on this site to get the details. But each person is different and needs to know where they fall in what their best options will be. I can tell you for me----so far---my choice turned out to be the correct one. But depending on your personal condition, there are many options available.

But in my mind the worst position you can take is to think you have to " just live with it" attitude.

Good luck
Pete
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the reply Pete.
My heart for the most part is in rhythm. I get a few PAC's  everyday, which has been a trigger for my AF episodes, and a reminder everyday that this could happen again at any time.My problem seems to be hyper sensitive adrenaline rushes. I'm on a beta blocker each day and a regimen aspirin. My EP does not want to do an ablation since I have only one AF episode every two years. Either I have to figure out how to get my head around this or get a second opinion on an ablation.

Thanks Pete.
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Avatar_f_tn
It's difficult for me too, I'm pretty much in the same situation you are in.  I have had 2 episodes of Afib and lots of PACs and PVCs.  I was an avid exerciser but since the Afib thing I have been afraid to get my heart rate up to where I used to.  If it goes over 100, I panic.  I just quit worrying about it when I walk my dog and if I'm on the stationary bike or treadmill I keep a check on it and don't get it up past the 90s if I can help it.  And actually with the beta blockers my heart doesn't respond to exercise like it used to.  I really don't have any advice, guess I just wanted to tell you I am in the same boat and haven't quite figured out how to get out of it.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same problem EXCEPT I DONT HAVE AFIB...but Ive had PACs and PVCs for years.....I also need to lose weight and was TOLD to exercise after MUCH cardiac testing. I even have the start of Coronary Artery Disease...but got the all clear AND the encouragement of two cardiologists to workout. Hard. I started out with my husband (he had a heart attack in 09) working out at the hospitals cardiac fitness center. they have a program for non-cardiac patients as well, and we got a good discount because both of us went there. I went thru the program, being monitored closely by them, and then graduated and am now on my own. My cardio told me when Im having a bad PVC day, to tell the girls when I workout that Im having them. For the first 10 times ( yes, I have them ALOT) they put a monitor on me and watched my heart. Yes, I had TONS of skipped beats and was totally miserable. But..I trusted them, and I kept at it. They said they never saw anything bad on the monitor!!! Any of the times!! Now, I dont even wear the monitor. They dont care about the skipped beats!!!  They truly dont, and these are cardiac people! They tell me to just work thru them. THat is the hardest thing to do!!!!  But I do it, even tho Im thinking my heart is going to stop....it doesnt. Not yet anyways!!
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995271_tn?1312416925
My take is that this is a behavioral issue.  When your heart rate starts to increase you get scared.  You get scared and stop.  The heart rate goes down.  Your reward for stopping is feeling better.

You need to break this cycle of fear.  There are two ways.  Total immersion or baby steps.  Total immersion means to keep pressing hard through the fear until you no longer fear the issue.   Baby steps would be to keep pressing further along slowly until you no longer fear.  You could set goals.  Plan this out.  You should divide it up into chucks that have you reach your goal in 8-9 weeks.

I've done both.  For me I like total immersion.  It's quicker and for some reason it leaves a lasting impression on me when I've conquered the fear.  Since you already have heart issues you might want to try baby steps.  Of course always discuss these things with your doctor.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you all for the replies!
I know it comes down to accepting, trusting and testing.
There's not much else we can do.
I think exercising with a buddy would be good.
Someone who understands what we go through.
Again...the responses are all very appreciated.
M
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Avatar_f_tn
Some of the things I have read about Afib and exercise indicate that you should not get your heart rate super high that it can actually cause your heart to go into Afib.  I don't know how true that is and I haven't asked my cardiologist.  Scared to test it to find out.  I just putter along around 95 to 100bpm and do ok.
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Avatar_f_tn
Forgot to add...before the Afib, I was not afraid to exercise.  In fact, exercising was my salvation, it decreased my anxiety and actually seemed to decrease the number of flip flops I had.  I had adjusted pretty well to the years of occassional SVT, PACs and PVCs.  Then the Afib came along and pretty much kicked my butt for a while.
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1505818_tn?1289680989
I've pretty much had PVCs and PACs all my life, but after Ihit meno they became more frequent.  Last year, the PVCs were happening daily, 9 or so hours a day without a regular heartbeat and I stopped exercising because I was afriad my heart would stop.  That fear stopped me from improving my health.

So I went to a Cardiologist because my PVCs were occuring before, during and after exercise and I was just plain AFRAID.  After 24 hour Holter and a 30 day Holter, I was diagnosed with benign PVCs. I cannot take Beta Blockers because of asthma.  The Cardiologist and my GP encouraged me to start exercising again, which I did, and it seems the more in shape I get, the less problems I have with the PVCs.

Now I work out HARD 3 days a week doing water aerobics.  I still get tiny PVCs sometimes during my workout, but they go away and I haven't died from it yet.  So like someone said previously, get rid of the FEAR!!  Fear makes these things worse and tends to raise your adrenaline which will feed your fear.
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Avatar_m_tn
Right now I'm just trying to get myself to function when these skips come on strong. By functIon I mean clean up the dishes, do the laundry...anything but lie down and wait for it to pass. What's really weird is when I go to bed they completely stop. Like they are saying, "you can have a break, see you tomorrow"
As a result, when I lie down in a certain position they go away after a few minutes. This must be in my head in some ways, meaning I convince myself that my bed or couch is safe and I relax and they stop.
But I've also convinced myself other things are not safe and I expect them to come and they do, it's like I can will them. (my exercise bike and treadmill are not safe right now.
I'm working on my fear right now, that's all any of us can do I guess.
I'm going to just sit on the bike and pedal stupid slow for awhile. Work up to slow, then maybe moderately slow....
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Avatar_f_tn
Good luck, I know how hard it is.  And I do believe you can will the stupid things to come.  I know I have done it a hundred times.  And any anxiety you have about doing something could bring them on...it really is a vicious circle.  The trick will be accepting them and realizing you can have them and you aren't going to die.  This is much easier with PACs or PVCs than it is Afib.  Afib is one of the more frightening experiences I have had. I am struggling with it now too, my Afib was bought on by an extremely stressful time in my life.  I am now in a similar situation and I'm basically just sitting here waiting for it to happen.  And I know that is the worst thing I can do.  But just go about your life as best you can and try not to freak out when you feel a flop.  Congratulate yourself for the small victories.  Hang in there.
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Avatar_m_tn
CF
Thanks for the encouragement.
I noticed you said you're just sitting there waiting for the afib to happen again.
I do that too...any time the skips come I think it's a precursor to the big one (lol)
We need to work on that very thing. Waiting for something that may not come. It's a waste of life.
The dots I connect are..."was that a skip?" -check my pulse- feel a skip- stomach drops- wait for another one - there it is - adrenaline kicks in- heart beats faster- skips come on stronger- wonder if it will become afib?- then if it does become afib- will I have a stroke?

I need to get off the roller coaster.

Thanks again.
M
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1109048_tn?1311013179
(check my pulse- feel a skip- stomach drops- wait for another one - there it is - adrenaline kicks in- heart beats faster- skips come on stronger) I so can relate to this feeling...I hate the stomach feeling I get can't catch my breathe...Can I get off this roller coaster with you?  By the way the doc put me on Verapamil 80mgs 3x day and it is not working...Are you on meds for this?
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Avatar_n_tn
I was perfectly fine up until this winter. Or so I thought. Then one day I was in a store and got weak and dizzey. Sat down and it went away. Got up and proceeded to checkout and noticed my words were slurring. Got to a hospital and found I was having a stroke. They kept me for 2 days and ran all kinds of tests. All they came up with was colesterol although mine wasn't that high. Made an appointment with my cardio doctor and found I had AFIB.I was shocked.He immediately wanted me on a blood thinner. I was scared to death of taking something like that.I was a vitamin person and loved vegetables and with that you are very limited,plus all the frequent blood tests.My doctor told me of a new blood thinner out that requires very few blood tests and you can eat all the vegetables and salad you want to and take your vitamins also. So I researched it out. If I had to be on this this seemed to be a better choice. I also researched all the vitamins beneficial to the heart and ones beneficial espicially for AFIB.I m now on an extensive vitamin program and after several months am feeling 99% better. Magnesium is one that works very well when you have AFIB. It helps regulate the heart.
I am still terrified of getting my heart going again, but know exersize is necessary. So I am starting small and working up to longer walks.
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996946_tn?1385991151
Maybe I need some magnesium.  I haven't had an a-fib episode for 4 months.  the last few days I've had a lot of high-sugar carbs and almost no veggies.  Now I've been in atrial tachycardia for about 20 hrs straight, ugh!  I'm assuming it's the diet that has brought on the episode, about 120 bpm.  Any thoughts?  If i take magnesium supplements will it slow my HR down....maybe?
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Avatar_m_tn
I am 75 years old and was diagnosed with permanent AFib Feb 2011.
I have lived with this condition since a preteen.
No one really knew about AFib back then and nothing was done.
Since Feb 2011, i have been on medications for blood pressure and CHF.
I had three stents implanted Oct 2011 when an angiogram found three blockages in the artery on the right side of the heart, each at 60%.
I have been in cardio rehab and have shown improvement with heart function.
I go regularly to a local fitness center and work out on a NuStep for 40 minutes and then use the weight machines for muscle tone.
I do take my meds as prescribed and see my PPO and cardiologists regularly as I do not take this condition for granted.
Along with this situation I also have been diagnosed with AAA which is scanned every 6 months.
Even though the meds make me feel tired, the exercises have been beneficial for me and I feel better each day.
I consult with my PPO and cardiologists regularly to make sure I am on the right track.
Be happy, don't worry.
billy
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1569985_tn?1328251082
After my first bout of Afib, I was afraid to exercise and was sent to cardiac rehab.  I had two episodes this year, from which I had to be electroconverted.  I am back at the preventive cardiology fitness center, where they have trainers, medical personnel and a crash cart.  They keep a close watch on me if I have symptoms, take my blood pressure before and after.  I seem to have more confidence there, and hope it will help me begin to exercise at home, as it is a pain to go to the center and I would get more exercise.  The Nu-step is a good workout, but not weight bearing.  I, too, have the PAC's and usually do a lighter workout if they are bad.  The cardiologist wants me to exercise, says it's safe and the best thing I can do.  I always feel better after.  The cardio says speed and heart rate is less important than steady and do at least 30 minutes all together.  He says you do not get the benefit if it's 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there, altho I figure that would be better than nothing at all.  The conditioning thing is true, if I start thinking about it, I WILL have the skips, then the adrenaline, more skips, etc., etc.  I say do what you can, but don't overdo.  It used to be that heart patients were advised to rest.  Now we know the heart is a muscle and needs to be exercised.  It decreases anxiety and gets rid of the adrenaline that causes so much trouble.  Your issues are so like mine -- I feel for you.  I think we just have to find a way to live with it.  Sometimes I can convince myself it's nothing, other times my fear is like a knee jerk reaction that has no thought process whatsoever -- it's heart skip - BAM - panic. I wish you luck.  Maybe finding a place you can exercise, for a time anyway, might give you more confidence.  Every time I have a successful experience, it makes me want to exercise more and, sadly, the opposite is true also.  Bad experiences make me fearful the next time.  Just try to get some good experiences under your belt -- and find a place you feel safe -- it helps!  Good luck.  
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