AF in Endurance Athletes
Lisa, a 57-year-old non-elite endurance road cyclist, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF). In the months leading up to her diagnosis, she noticed regular episodes of symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath and light headedness.
Watch the video to view Lisa’s full story.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia with increasing incidence in Australia1. It causes your heart to beat irregularly and often too fast. Moderate levels of exercise have been shown to be protective against developing AF. However, it has been found that there is a U-shaped relationship between physical activity and AF, with increasing prevalence in endurance athletes2.
People with untreated AF are at five times greater stroke risk than those without AF1. It can also lead to other conditions such as heart failure.
Click here to find out more about atrial fibrillation.
A regular heart beats around 60-100 beats per minute in a steady, regular rhythm. If your rhythm is fast, slow or uneven, this is known as an arrhythmia.
Many factors can influence your heart rate, including fitness level, emotions, medicine and age.
If your heart rate is notably below 60 bpm or above 100 bpm consistently you should contact your doctor for further investigation.
In many cases, an arrhythmia will be no reason for concern, however sometimes it can be a sign of other heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation.
This information is of a general nature. If you are concerned about your heart health, discuss this with your local doctor.
1. Atrial fibrillation in Australia. 2020 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/atrial-fibrillation-in-australia/contents/how-many-australians-have-atrial-fibrillation.
2. M. Myrstad, et al., Effect of Years of Endurance Exercise on Risk of Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter,The American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 114, Issue 8, 2014.
3. Heart Foundation 2021, What is atrial fibrillation? <https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/conditions/atrial-fibrillation>