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Do You Worry About Your Heart?

Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

Do You Worry About Your Heart?

Old 04-05-20, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
BMC - Before My Cancer - I could hop on my bike for the 5 mile ride to the trail head for a group ride start and within .75 mile be at 160bpm at 20+ mph and it would settle down some after 1 mile. Rarely could I get to 180+ without the feeling that I was going to puke, so when it occasionally spiked over 200 and I was feeling OK I knew it was just an erroneous read. If I wasn't going hard and I would have felt like barfing AND the pulse was 200+ there would be a quick stopping the bike and a finger pulse check.
When mine goes up due to a dry flapping jersey I hold my hand over the chest strap and that usually brings it down to an expected level.
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Old 04-14-20, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
When mine goes up due to a dry flapping jersey I hold my hand over the chest strap and that usually brings it down to an expected level.

That's interesting- one time after a max effort up a hill, had 200 bpm reading going down the other side, but didn't feel anything un-ordinary physically.

Max observed at that time was maybe 175. Commenting to the group, a petite woman said maybe I had picked up a reading from her HRM.

Only happened that once, & was concerned but after some years (& plenty of hard efforts) there's been nothing else like it.
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Old 04-21-20, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
That is my theory too. I have read some of the medical articles about afib among endurance athletes, and the data is frustrating, as no one can seem to agree on what an "endurance athlete" is, but all conclude there is an elevated risk of afib among us.

I know a number of people with afib issues, and they do all have one thing in common. They are people who like to push hard all the time. If they are doing a double century, they are trying to complete it as fast as possible ... and ditto with any ride (all of which are training rides).

I only push that hard in races, and even then, try to pace myself. Does that mean I won't get afib? Who knows. But that is my theory and I'm sticking to it. And if I do get afib, I'll deal with it then.
Yeah, had to do a bunch of research a couple years back.
Doc said I had an enlarged heart and slight afib.
bunch o testing later.

Enlarged heart from endurance sports, not really a risk factor.
Same with endurance induced afib. No correlation with bad cardiac events. But you can have both bad afib and not bad afib.
Ejection fraction is the critical factor in both afib and over sized hearts.

Now, drug exposure, genetics, and history of electric shock exposure are all individual. Who knew electric shock would be a long term risk factor?

My max hr is in low 150's. But that's way over cooked. Really hard to recover for the rest of ride after hitting 150.
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Old 04-29-20, 10:41 PM
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First concern must be communication ability. I will not ride where there is not adequate cell phone coverage and will never ride alone without a cell phone with location active.

Why? Heart attack while cycling to work and life was saved by the cell phone and being able to call for help. I could not move my legs, body felt fine, no pain but suddenly just quit. This was not hitting a wall.
This was back in 2010 and it was the LAD demon. I have thought much about what the trigger might have been., I was feeling great that morning and was running a wonderful ride, really buzzing alone and
a hormone high. Went under a MPP underpass and started up a slight 400 foot elevation gain, when it stopped. I was able to get to top of hill, but no further. I didn't know it was a heart attack at first but
finally figured it out. Several stents latter, continued with post cardiac meetings and because of the cycle conditioning, recovered well.

Fast forward to last year, Cardio had fallen off and second heart attack. This time felt pressure, a normal symptom. Listend to body and said call 911 immediately.
Before the shutdown I was in cardio rehab with KP and I was suprised how cautiously the Dr was about heart training. His emphasis were:
-- cycling is not enough, need arm work outs also, aka schwinn air cycle
-- workout at least 30 minutes and best if workout 50 minutes
-- any exercise longer than 25 minutes straight does not give additional benefit. Better to roll into another day
-- workout at least 3 days a week and best if 4 or 5, but no more
-- at the slightest feeling of discomfort, i.e. heavy breathing, gasping, dial back IMMEDIATELY

I have fitbit for my HR monitor and comparing with medical HR monitor on body with stick on sensors, the fitbit was about 10 BPM slow. Also found HR monitors at gym treadmills were off by about 10%.
Conclusion use HR number as a guideline and not a law.

Hope this helps. With the shutdown I have returned to cycling and it's hard to keep it dialed back, but slowly working my way back and I hope you can stay strong.
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Old 04-30-20, 07:10 PM
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I push as hard as I can. Do not carry a phone, ride way out in the country by myself, lift heavy items at work. If it happens so be it, I truly need the disconnection. After a lifetime of being stressed out being self employed, still working at 62 and no plans to retire, riding hard, family, my dog, hunting & surf fishing really calm me down, my zen moments. However, I really feel sorry for those with inherited heart problems. A great friend that used to ride with me just had a pacemaker installed at 54! Not sure when he can ride again though hopefully this summer. I feel very lucky to have the genes that allow me to do what I do. Just wish the best for those facing issues with their health. Hard hand to be dealt.
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Old 04-30-20, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by huffman View Post
I push as hard as I can. Do not carry a phone, ride way out in the country by myself, lift heavy items at work. If it happens so be it, I truly need the disconnection.....................................

I ALWAYS have my phone. Might be a good idea to carry.

Went out 12AM Monday with a buddy. After about 30 miles he took off since he's 21 years younger and his pointing to a wild pig with piglets to the side of the path was not seen by me since he was too far ahead. Big MAMA (150 to 200lbs) came at me and sideswiped me. Got up, was experiencing early shock but managed to wait for his return, had him pick up my bike and hold it for me so I could straddle and get on. Slow 5 mile ride home, showered, started to get in bed and felt/heard ribs move and BURNING SENSATION. ER trip resulted with cracked scapula, number 5 and 6 ribs cracked and punctured lung. Following a drain insert, 8mgs of morphine I was off on a 55 mile ride to a Trauma Center. Set off low HR alarm and after sent to room and sleeping the On Duty Cardiologist made a visit. Seems my pulse was having a number of 2.5 seconds delay as I slept. Before my Prostate Cancer treatment began I was an ECG verified 32bpm HR an now 5 years later at almost 70 in the low 40's and managed a 39 in the hospital.

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Old 05-01-20, 02:42 AM
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Hi all, just joined.
Anyway, excellent and very interesting thread and it caught my eye and made me want to register. I'm 61 and only been road cycling for 4 years, although I've had a MTB for decades but only a casual rider on that. Surfing always been my main sport(still is) but I love road cycling now as well.
Regarding this thread, it is something that doesn't necessarily worry me too much but it does occur to me that although I'm fit and healthy and always done a lot of exercise I rarely if ever max out my effort/HR like I do cycling especially on climbs so the thought has occurred if I'm doing the right thing by going to the limit(or what I currently perceive to be). I'm very much reassured that many here do!
I ride using a HRM, mainly because I like to see the numbers along with the other metrics of speed, distance etc. I also use it to stop myself blowing up on a climb, if HR getting towards max I try and ease back a bit so I don't blow myself out. Only done this the once and was a ride on a really hot day - yes occasionally we get them here in UK - and I'd worked nightshift before and set off up a short climb but it was 25% and went too hard too soon and ground myself to a stop. That felt very uncomfortable and took a few minutes to recover so now I pay attention to my effort and HR and although I still push as hard as I can, I do so without blowing up.
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Old 05-03-20, 04:43 PM
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I watched my mom go through a year of hell before passing away of congestive heart failure at 90, my father more like two years of confusion until 99 and 11 months, three weeks. He was a minor league player as a young man, and in his last few months he thought the Yankees were going to give him a call. Currently observing my in-laws dealing with losing touch with reality, adult diapers, help going to the bathroom, not knowing their own kids, fearing death, and angry about being treated like children.

The USA has an industry that's really good at keeping us alive, as long as the money keep following. Quality of life, otoh, isn't part of their business plan.

I am not worried about a heart attack.
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Old 05-04-20, 02:28 AM
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I hope I can be put to sleep rather than any nursing home or go through dementia. Because I am autistic I quit my last job to get a boss who treated me like a child and started stealing from me, I want out of life if I ever get trapped in such "assisted "living"".
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Old 05-04-20, 07:55 AM
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I've been rather lucky in that regard. I began "serious" cycling at 13, and have more or less maintained a physically fit lifestyle over the years. My blood pressure is the same as it was when I was in high school, and my resting pulse remains low. I don't ride at much as I would like to, but I make up fir it with lots of walking, lots of stairs, and keeping up with a 5-year-old daughter. I have never been careful with what I eat, or how much, but I have always been physically active, which has gone a long way to help keeping me healthy, and preventing me from becoming overweight.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:33 PM
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not so much anymore

I've always been active... for the past 30 years I've been playing a lot of tennis... prior to that it was competitive volleyball where I met my wife. Cycling was a bigger part of my life in college along with soccer. I've always tired to stay in shape because of family history. Dad had arterial sclerosis and had the arteries replaced from his heart to his groin because he had little blood flow to his feat. This was back in 75 when I was 15 and he was 38. Before he was 60 he had quadruple bypass. I've tried to watch my cholesterol but I couldn't control my numbers without drugs and the side effects like sore knees made me stop the meds.

2 summers ago I was having trouble catching my breath while playing singles. at the time I blamed it on the heat since the humidity was high and the temp was in the 90s... I do live in Florida after all. When things finally cooled down I still didn't feel any better. I couldn't run a block without being winded. After my annual physical I made an appointment with the cardiologist. April of 19 I passed the stress test but an echo cardiogram confirmed moderate to severe aortic stenosis... dr. recommended not pushing myself so hard, stay hydrated, come back if the situation gets worse otherwise we'll retest in 6 months.

In October my stenosis was considered 'critical'. A normal aortic valve opens to the size of a quarter and my opening was the size of a dime. At that point they did a heart cath exam to see if there are any other problems that need to be treated, like blocked arteries... fortunately I had no other problems, despite my high cholesterol (around 250) so I was cleared to meet the surgeon... December 18th I checked into the hospital for AVR. I chose the engineered valve not the mechanical one because you can avoid the blood thinners for the rest of your life. I was out of the hospital on the 5th day and started my rehab.

By March I was back on the court hitting tennis balls, fully healed up but my conditioning was poor despite all the walking/treadmill/exercise bike I was doing in cardio rehab. In June I pulled the bike back out and I've been riding 3-4x per week averaging 100-200 miles. Now I'm holding my own again and outlasting my opponents on the tennis court. This summer I hope to get out and do some week long bike trips in the upper midwest... I just hope the vaccine is ready by then and most of the covid nightmare is over so it will be an enjoyable trip!
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Old 11-28-20, 05:20 PM
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I push myself fairly hard riding road bicycles 3 times a week and mountain bike once a week, each time for around 2 hours or so. I’m 67 and was quite fit in my 30’s and 40’s and remained somewhat active in my 50’s and early 60’s.

I stepped up my bicycle riding several months ago and mentioned it to my doctor when I went for my physical. She ordered a whole series of heart and blood tests and she indicated I was good to go. In particular, my ‘pump’ was very strong, no doubt due to my years of exercise, when I was younger.

She did mention I would have been smarter to have the tests BEFORE stepping things up.

I do have peripheral neuropathy, which impacts my bp to some extent, so I monitor that fairly frequently.

Life is much more enjoyable being in shape and not overweight. I no longer make old man noises when standing up and all my aches and pains have vanished.

I want to start training more efficiently, so I do intend to use a heart rate monitor in the near future.
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Old 11-28-20, 05:40 PM
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I drove my father to his cardiologist appointment once, and my mom wanted me to ask a question:
Q/ My mom is worried because my dad goes out with a lawn chair to rake leaves. He rakes until he is red and puffing and can't stand up. He sits down for a while, then as soon as he can he gets right back up and dives back in. Mom's question is should he be doing this.
Doc's A/ If all my patients acted like your father, none of them would need me. Tell your mom not to worry.

Some years before that, in his late 50s, he'd had a quintuple bypass. I don't even know what that is. After the operation, the doctor told us that by rights my father should have been long dead. He didn't have any vessels to be pushing blood through, and the doctor figured that maybe his heart was so strong that he was just pushing blood through places it shouldn't really go. When he finally died, at 96, it wasn't his heart that did it.

This is the same man who I reported in another thread today after a couple of hip operations switched in his 80s from his Schwinn LeTour to my mom's heavy old one speed pink and white girl's bike for his 20 miles a day because he couldn't lift his leg. I told my mom that someday he would go under the wheels of a garbage truck and that's how he wanted to go. My mom was horrified but my dad just laughed and said "She doesn't get it at all." He'd also been a four-letter man in college, in his school's Sports Hall of Fame, and a Golden Gloves boxer. Though I'm not a jock at all, I learned a lot from him about refusing to stop.
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Old 11-28-20, 05:42 PM
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The grand kids get a kick out of old man noises, especially the non ache and pain ones, lol. Lost a friend on a ride earlier this year. He told me he felt nauseous just before he passed. If he was having other problems than that, he didn't mention them. Do I worry? I'll say no. I do pay more attention to my body now days.
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Old 11-29-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Null66 View Post
Yeah, had to do a bunch of research a couple years back.
Doc said I had an enlarged heart and slight afib.
bunch o testing later.

Enlarged heart from endurance sports, not really a risk factor.
Same with endurance induced afib. No correlation with bad cardiac events. But you can have both bad afib and not bad afib.
Ejection fraction is the critical factor in both afib and over sized hearts.

Now, drug exposure, genetics, and history of electric shock exposure are all individual. Who knew electric shock would be a long term risk factor?

My max hr is in low 150's. But that's way over cooked. Really hard to recover for the rest of ride after hitting 150.
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Old 12-28-20, 05:09 PM
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Should you get a Varia or a HRM?

While it's very good to share, about 20% in the above advice is scary bad.
It's damn hard to find a physician who is worth anything, but you guys spend more time fiddling with a Garmin than looking for doc's.
Find someone who gets it. They are out there.
Get risk assessed critically and as often as needed.
Over calling heart disease is common.
So is sudden death.
Talk to an odds maker that knows his game and breaks staring at the computer to talk patiently with you.
It's a team sport. Be on the right team.

Last edited by bikebikebike; 12-28-20 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 12-29-20, 09:46 PM
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Have occasional AFIB and had an EKG last month. Was told it was nothing to worry about. I used to really push my heart to the extreme and did so again about a month ago to see if I could make it into a top 10 spot on Strava. Happy to report I squeaked in and passed that stress test even though it left me gasping for air for about 30 seconds after the climb. Read some time ago that such idiocy causes either micro-tears or scaring, but if I going to go, let it be on a bike. Don’t have to worry about dying during sex considering how long we have been married, and better yet, it won’t freak out the bike.
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Old 12-30-20, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I watched my mom go through a year of hell before passing away of congestive heart failure at 90, my father more like two years of confusion until 99 and 11 months, three weeks. He was a minor league player as a young man, and in his last few months he thought the Yankees ...

I am not worried about a heart attack.
Happy for you. Looks like you have a dozen more bikes to buy!
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Old 12-30-20, 08:28 AM
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I am 57 y/o w/o a Hx of heart problems but both parents in their 80's have afib and take rat poison. Pops has a pacemaker.
I do think about not overdoing it when on longer climbs and will slow my pace or stop for a quick rest to lower my HR.
At this point in life, I do not worry about heart problems while riding but as aforementioned, I do not max out my heart on sprints.
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Old 12-30-20, 08:54 AM
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On long climbs, I try to keep max HR below 160. By the rule of thumb, that's above my theoretical max, but for whatever reason, I seem to top out north of 170. 160 is pushing into anaerobic for me, but I can pull 155 for an hour easily.

In days past, I had a Polar HRM...the older stuff, before they went to Wind or whatever the more recent rev of strap-to-watch comms became. Riding along a stretch of state highway that paralleled a railroad line, I would consistently have the HRM reading go bat**** high at one section, for about 1/4 mile. Like, 300BPM+. And then fall back to expected. Not sure if it was some railroad eq that was getting it excited, maybe a power transformer. Never saw it anywhere else, but it was consistent there. First time it happened, I dismounted on the shoulder, expecting to keel over. Checked my pulse manually...must have been about 120BPM. Road in that section was dead flat...easy riding. Never did figure out what was causing it. That was probably two HRMs back...haven't seen anything like it with the Wahoo TICKR.
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Old 12-30-20, 12:58 PM
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Power lines have been known to cause bad HRM readings. Also, as you've observed the 220-age isn't useful for predicting individual maximum heart rates, especially for fit older persons.
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Old 12-30-20, 01:16 PM
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Two MI, followed by emergency angioplasty about ten years ago, then earlier this year, bypass surgery. Both of the heart attacks occurred while riding. Docs told me that being fit saved me from more serious damage.

Am I worried? A little, but images of me dying in a puddle of drool after years of being bed ridden appeals to me even less.
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Old 01-03-21, 09:53 AM
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I worry only a little. I can be very competitive, and can get good results when training with power and analyzing all the metrics as to best maximize fitness and form. However, most of these conventional techniques are for much younger riders. I understand this higher chronic training stress can be harmful to the older athlete. I go though phases where I really get into training & winning the sprint against local racers; and other times I realized this is too much & back off.
As my body naturally tells me I need more rest, I take more rest. I'm also a really bad mountain biker, and injury has forced a lot of time to recover, too.
Between my wallowing commitment and injury, my heart is probably well protected from over-training.
Honestly, I worry more about skin cancer from all this exposure. I've had it several times & my doctor really wants me off the bike by 10:00 AM. (well....)
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Old 01-03-21, 06:06 PM
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Do I WORRY about my heart? Nope. I've already outlasted my old man's history -- he had his first two heart attacks at age 55 Angioplasty . We went another fifteen years before the next one that required required triple bypass, and then the final one two years later...
I'm almost 63 and haven't had a problem with it yet (other than high blood pressure). My heart rate is slow, but pressure is high. I blame the thick Scandinavian blood. Besides, I'd rather go out with a MI than waste away with dementia...
I always feel better for days after a vigorous ride. I put that down not to a 'runner's high', but rather me burning the toxins out of the body. As long as I keep doing that periodically, I should be good for another ten years or so. After that? well. who knows. No males in my family going back generations have made it past 72.
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Old 03-23-21, 02:50 AM
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Bikes: Rose X-LITE TEAM 4000 '17, Koga Miyata Proracer '81, BMC SLX01 '08, Focus Arriba 3.0 '15

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I definitely do, and so does my wife. I'm only 42 and physically quite fit. I've always done lots of sports, and as a teen was running track at swiss championship level.

Nevertheless, I have frequent bouts of atrial extrasystoles, possibly as a side effect of intense cardio workouts as a teen. I see the cardiologist every 3-4 years to be sure and it's mostly considered a benign condition, but should be monitored. I have no limitation on how I do my exercise, and my favorite activity is climbing alpine cols in my area, which means full gas over extensive periods.

I once heard a statistic (don't know if it's true, but sounds plausible) that if you make a pie chart out of all people who die from heart failure during sports, 60% are cyclists, 20 % are runners and 20% are all other sports combined.
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