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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to hear from anyone who has developed an irregular heart beat - specifically persistent atrial fibrillation - and either decided to live with it rather than try (risk?) one or more ablation procedures to get back into normal rhythm; or has been unable to have an ablation (or take effective drugs) for whatever reason and remains in AF. The question is how are you getting on with continuing to run (or at least exercise) whilst in AF (assuming you have been given the OK to do so)?

My situation/background is that I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal (intermittent) AF 17 years ago, which until recently has been controlled with the drug Flecanide, initially as a ‘pill in the pocket’ option and then taking a modest dose daily. It has generally not been a problem for me with very few apparent episodes over that period.

However, even as a reasonably fit and very active person in my early sixties, I unfortunately had a heart attack in April this year (NSTEMI) which luckily has not left me with any significant damage, but which caused me (presumably related) to go into AF and which has become persistent, including after a cardioversion procedure. I am no longer able to take Flecanide which I understand is not appropriate after my heart attack and the Cardiologist is not recommending any other drug that may get me back into sinus rhythm.

After an ECG exercise stress test the Cardiologist is happy that my AF is well controlled with the medication I am on, and has suggested I can exercise as I wish, providing I do not feel unwell.

I have also been told that provided my AF symptoms are manageable/not too troublesome for me then I should not necessarily ‘chase sinus rhythm’, primarily because I believe the balance of evidence is that my overall stroke risk with diagnosed AF is similar regardless of whether I remain in persistent/permanent AF compared with achieving sinus rhythm following a successful ablation. As a lay person I find that counterintuitive but apparently that is presently the case.

This then becomes a difficult decision (whether to have an ablation or not) for me – a lifestyle consideration perhaps but much more because running and exercise generally is important to my mental health and wellbeing. As things are presently, I am still able to exercise - albeit at a significantly lower level and with less enjoyment than I would like (this may hopefully improve) - with some (relatively mild) intermittent symptoms (palpitations, as well as some shortness of breath with modest effort and feeling a little lightheaded occasionally). But these are things that I could potentially live with, when balanced against the small but not insignificant life changing disabling risks associated with ablation, which may or may not be successful in any case. I am also told I should not wait too long to decide because otherwise the chances of a successful ablation become significantly reduced for persistent AF.

So, in summary, my opening question is the primary reason for this post (although any relevant observations on the background situation would also be most welcome) which is how is anyone out there in a similar situation, perhaps now with permanent AF, getting on with running and exercising generally? I would also be interested in any views you may have on ablation and whether you did or didn’t go down that route to where you are now. Thanks for taking the time to read this (rather lengthy sorry) post and many thanks in anticipation of some helpful responses.
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