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Retired Pro Athlete Heart Questions/Issues
Hi everyone,

Since July, I've been dealing with some heart issues. My heart rate is very inconsistent, I had a "baffling" EKG with tons of skipped beats, my heart rate spikes doing mundane tasks, and sometimes I get dizzy/start to black out during strenuous excercise. Back in December I went to my primary care doc, they listened to my heart and did an EKG and sent me to a cardiologist after hearing my symptoms. The cardiologist kind of blew me off because I'm in excellent shape, and he was comparing me to the patients he usually saw instead of comparing me to my existing baseline. He did a stress echo to rule out HCM and sent me on my way.

Some background, in a retired professional endurance athlete. I was doing 3-5 hours of high end aerobic work every day for 17 years. I know what it's like to be overtrained and I'm familiar with all side effects that come with heavy training. My current job is even more physically demanding with ~10 hours of high intensity work daily in an extremely high stress environment. When I train now, say a 6 mile run with a 50lb weight vest, sometimes I'm concerned about blacking out or failing, and these symptoms have made it difficult to perform at my best (read impossible). The symptoms went away for about 8 weeks, from mid January until about a week ago. Now they're back. My heart is simply not behaving the right way. For a while I thought I was out of shape, but then I realized something was truly off and I wasn't just being a baby. I've trained/competed through pneumonia, stress fractures, sepsis/MRSA (that one almost got me), and torn tendons. I have no problem being uncomfortable, but I do have a problem with my body not cooperating and not being at its best.

I'm not taking any prescriptions, blood work looks good, do not drink or smoke, I chew tobacco on occasion but quit for 3 months to rule it out as a possibility (this started before I ever used dip anyways). I currently take magnesium, arginine, a multi-v, beta alanine, calcium and D3 (for stress fractures), and am generally very healthy. I'm hard on my body but I take care of myself. I generally take 1600-2400 mg Advil/day (did that through my entire competitive career and I'm fine, I know it's not ideal but my stomach is bulletproof and I don't care what happens to me down the road). I hadn't taken advil in ~2 months when the symptoms started, and I started the regimen again shortly before they disappeared for a bit.

It seems really bizarre that my heart rate seems to spike bending over, jogging, or going up a flight for stairs.

I am a 28 year old male, 6'6", 250 lbs, 11% body fat. I'll try and post more if I think of any relevant information. In my experience, doctors don't know how to deal with athletes and I'm very mistrusting of them... especially the doctors I deal with, they're turds.

I'm hoping someone else here has had a similar experience and knows how to deal with it.
Thanks
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5 Answers
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1423357 tn?1414258965
Have you worn a 30 day monitor to try and capture what's going on?  While you wear this type of device, you can do anything except submerge it.  Don't let the physicians blow you off.  It has happened to me in the past as well.  Stick to your guns and demand more research into what's happening with your heart.
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Thanks, but I am unable to do that. I am wet almost every day due to my job.
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12492606 tn?1459877633
A couple of things.  Endurance training is hard on the heart and scaring can happen leading to AF or other arrhythmias,  Check out the LoneAF forum as former endurance athletes post their experience there and will provide feedback.  With regards to heart monitoring, there is a minimally invasive implant called a LinQ that would probably work for you.  You wear it for 30 days and then it gets taken out.
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19887518 tn?1486052247
Hank
I totally understand your hesitance to wear a monitor because it would interfere with your job. My job depends on a "fit for duty" letter.

But, you MUST, I just wore a Zio Patch for two weeks. No swimming but shower and sweat is no problem. It is very telling. It caught a couple things I wish didn't happen but I'd rather know so they can be properly addressed. Get your priorities in order and get that monitor taped on ASAP.
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19887518 tn?1486052247
Hank
I totally understand your hesitance to wear a monitor because it would interfere with your job. My job depends on a "fit for duty" letter.

But, you MUST, I just wore a Zio Patch for two weeks. No swimming but shower and sweat is no problem. It is very telling. It caught a couple things I wish didn't happen but I'd rather know so they can be properly addressed. Get your priorities in order and get that monitor taped on ASAP.
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Thanks for the responses guys. Went in to a private doc and she thinks it's a pulmonary embolism based on coughing up blood, which I didn't think was a big deal. Going in for a VQ scan on Friday. Appreciate the support. My job also depends on being fit for full, and I'm also wet every day or wearing gear that would make me unable to wear a monitor.
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Hope all works out for you. It's frustrating when you don't look text book,instead of them searching for a cause you have to ask for tests, or imply it's "in your head" sheesh.
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The issue in my mind is that most doctors look to see if I'm in the "normal range". Normal for me, is not normal for most people. If my resting heart rate is at 70, that may be normal, but for me it's double.

It's like bringing your car in to the shop because it's not running right, and being sent on your way because it still gets you from point A to point B.

Luckily, it seems like this doctor understands.
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Having a doctor that listens makes a difference. I hear you about being in the normal range. It's so frustrating because everybody has a variation of normal. It will be interesting to hear what comes out of it. Please post when you can.
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Currently wearing an event monitor for 7 days, hopefully that gets me somewhere.
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1423357 tn?1414258965
Glad to hear that you got one.  Sometimes this is the only way to capture what's going on.  Keep us posted.
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