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First ride after heart attack. Humorous story

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

First ride after heart attack. Humorous story

Old 07-09-14, 12:13 AM
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digibud
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First ride after heart attack. Humorous story

Yesterday my wife and I went for a short "test" ride following my heart attack on the first "permitted" day. It didn't go so well. I had some minor pain in my leg which wasn't unexpected but I also had an abnormally high heart rate with a very minor level of exertion. My Garmin was giving me fits, working, not working, no cadence then some cadence that seemed OK but not very responsive. My biggest concern was my heart rate was way over what I'd ever see given my effort and after a few miles I called it and we returned home realizing my HR was way above what it should have been; in fact it was near what was previously my max sustainable rate when pushing as hard as I could.
We went out again today. No leg pain at all and I decided to not look at my HR monitor and took off with a goal to not even breath hard but push just up till the point where I was going to start to have to begin a bit of heavy breathing. Got there...checked my HR and it wasn't showing up, Cadence was gone too. I slowed down and after a bit my HR started to record and it was 145, again abnormally high for me given that I am on beta blockers. I commented to my wife that I was going to have to give my dr a call. It didn't seem right. We continued on. I pushed on and again my HR monitor failed. I waited for my wife and eventually my Garmin started up again after I adjusted the strap a bit. It was a bit high. I checked with my wife..."What's your HR?" She replied "132". "hmmm. mine too." I said. We pushed a bit faster together. "Now?" I aked? "138" she said. "Mine...too..." I replied. We slowed down and what do you know...our heart rates matched. Perfectly. Too perfectly.
The jig was up as they say. My HR monitor was reading HER HR. We confirmed it with a few obvious tests.
I'm home and will go back to the garage shortly and get my cadence unit paired up properly . I was able to pair my HR on the fly and realized yesterday's depressing HR observation was simply me reading my wife's HR and thinking something was really wrong! It was...but it wasn't me!

On another note...I think I'm going to go back to the hospital and ask for a few more stents. Two or three more and I might keep up with my son in law. I felt stronger and better than ever!
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Old 07-09-14, 02:20 AM
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Great that you're riding again. Even better that you retain a sense of humor!

After my heart attack last Sept. I'm taking beta blockers too and wear a Cateye heart rate monitor. Useful info for me at this stage of recovery.

Every mile on the bike is a victory.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:14 AM
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Hope you continue your recovery. My first thought was that if I'm going to do all this exercise and STILL have a heart attack...what is the point? Then I realized how stupid that thought was. God Speed and feel well.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:18 AM
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I had a heart attack in April 2013 and got back on my bike the following June. Scary at first, but I quickly learned to listen to my body tell me what I could and couldn't do. I've done 2600 miles since then

I do wear a heart rate monitor, but don't rely on it since I've seen it read 195 bpm while I'm still in the parking lot.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:27 AM
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Yeah, but now your wife must be worried about her HR.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
Yeah, but now your wife must be worried about her HR.
Hopefully not. I'm just quite a bit stronger. With my first stent I gained a good deal of ability. It was a noticeable improvement which is no surprise; I had 80% blockage in my main artery but restenosis did occur and I now have 4 larger stents. There is no guarantee that restenosis will not occur again but there's no point in dwelling on that. It's only been one real ride after the operation and I kept myself in check but road faster, easier than I ever have so the next few weeks and months will be very interesting. Modern medicine has given me the opportunity to have another summer enjoying my health and quite possibly, many more. No complaints.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:51 AM
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195 in the parking lot? Sounds like an anomaly, eh? I have almost 2600 in this year which isn't bad for an Alaskan my age. My problem is definitely that I listen to my body and push it to it's absolute limit. I simply can't do anything else. It was a race that brought on my second heart attack. It may well be the end of me but it is what it is. In a week or two I'll be hitting some serious hills and when some of my current contract work is done I'll do a century ride. I'll take the former on the edge of anaerobic, pushing as hard as I am able and the latter will be done at a sustainable speed. I won't be fast but I'll get it done. I listen to my body and then, like Jens Voigt I tell it to shut up .
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Old 07-09-14, 06:01 AM
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I was 56 and 95% blocked in my left main. I had bypass surgery and climbed a 10,000 foot peak 5 weeks later. That was about 13 years ago. I am now 69. My grandfather on the other hand died at 62 from his second heart attack. We are so lucky for the advances in heart surgery. I got to see and do so much. I started with a stent early on but it failed as did a second procedure. The bypass was the winner but the recovery was uncomfortable and I had some high heart rate issues that had to be controlled with digitalis. Couple of weeks of that and beta blockers took over. I now take nothing and have no heart rate issues.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:41 AM
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Now that was funny.

With Garmin's and a few other HRMs, watch out for "Flappy Jersey Syndrome". I often start out with a really high HR until I start sweating and especially if I'm wearing a somewhat loose jersey in windy conditions. The technical material in some jerseys can produce static electricity and the Garmin chest strap is sensitive enough to read the static as a heart beat. You can use water, spit , or even some gel stuff designed for chest straps (Performance sells it) to prevent false high readings.

I had a minor heart attack in November 2000. The first ride wasn't what I was looking forward to as much as going up that damned steep hill where I had the heart attack. That SOB hill was not going to win a second time!
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Old 07-09-14, 02:46 PM
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When you get an anomalous reading like that, it's always a good idea to double check with e.g. a carotid or radial pulse using your finger.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:07 PM
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I too had a heart attack - mine was quite a while ago, and I think that my cycling has kept my heart healthy for the past 15 years.

I have a similar story from about a year or two ago. I was doing a bike ride with a group, and had my daughter drop me off at the start of the ride with my bike. I get my bike and helmet, and she drives off. I then realize that I didn't have the strap to the HR monitor (I have a Garmin on the bike which does everything). I get on the bike and start off on the ride, and I notice that the HR on the monitor is showing a HR which seems about right. I assume that it is reading from another rider, and I push a little harder, the guy next to me matches my pace, and the heart rate goes up. I slack off, he slows too, and the HR goes down. The reading was intermittent, sometimes it would just vanish altogether, but when I had a reading, it looked about right. We got to our lunch stop, I take off my helmet, and see the HR strap in the helmet
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Old 07-10-14, 12:45 PM
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You probably need to check with your cardiologists. Looks like you need a Holter monitor. It is possible you were in atrial fibrillation and your heart rate was all over.
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