Author Topic: cardiac pacemakers and touring  (Read 3923 times)

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Offline johnsondasw

cardiac pacemakers and touring
« on: February 09, 2008, 05:45:55 pm »
I am a 59 year old male.  Due to heart rhythm problems, I was fitted with a pacemaker 3 days ago.  I've been touring for about 30 years,and hope to continue.  Any other roadies out there with this condition,and, if so, how does it affect your biking in general, and multi-day touring specifically?  Any feedback is appreciated.  

May the wind be at your back!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline WesternFlyer

cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2008, 03:24:19 am »
I'm 61 and have heart rhythm problems but no pacemaker.  In my instance it is a case of permanent atrial fibrillation.  I went to ten different cardiologists over ten years with myriad tests and procedures all of which didn't fix my ticker or my very low energy level.  I finally got referred to one of the top electro-physiologist at Oregon Health Science University.  After another battery of tests he changed my medications and I started to feel the best I have in well over ten years.  (I'm forever grateful that my wife has excellent health insurance at her work!)  I asked specifically about riding and long distant touring.  He and now she are fine with it as long as I don't let my pulse get too high, and that has mostly translates into riding very slowly up hills with very low gears, 24/34, and smiling a lot as almost everyone passes me.  My test ride was down the Oregon coast last summer.  I did a standard century one day and metric centuries several times pulling an over loaded trailer.  I will be doing a longer ride with much less weight next summer.

I am still constantly in atrial fib with all the attending risks.  But my current doc who is also a bike rider says the riding is doing more good than the medicine.  My advice is talk to your cardiologist about riding.  If you haven't had one get a stress test.  If you can talk them into it get a Holter test where they wire your heart up to a monitor for 48 hours.  Then get on your bike and push it, within reason, up some hills and faster paced flats and go some distance.  That will really tell the story of what you can safely do.  

Besides going slow is not all that bad.  In southern Oregon a gray whale and I paced each other for over an hour.  It was beautiful.


Western Flyer

I have a hangnail, and my heart is what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!
   Shel Silverstein

This message was edited by WesternFlyer on 2-9-08 @ 11:29 PM
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline johnsondasw

cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2008, 02:40:45 pm »
thanks for your reply, WF.  I went through months of Holters and EKG's and go in again in a couple weeks for pacemaker adjusting (rate response work). My cardiologist assures me I will be able to bike 100 miles in a day as I have for years, but I'm interested in hearing it from people on bikes.  Your report was very informative and inspiring.  I rode the Oregon coast as part of a 2005 tour from Abgerdeen, WA to Santa Monica. What a great adventure!  Keep up the riding.  Have they talked about a pacemaker for you?  Thanks again for your encouragement and example.  

May the wind be at your back!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline WesternFlyer

cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2008, 07:18:14 pm »
Hi Johnsondasw,

I suspect there are on lot of us out there trying to stay on the road under our own power despite the curves life throws at us, as we get older.  

I would be glad to have a dialog with you and anyone else about heart problems and touring.  I dont much care to share my stories of blood and gore, or the burden I have put on the medical-industrial-indemnity complex on this forum and they on me.  If you are an ACA member you can get my email from my profile.


Western Flyer

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!
   Shel Silverstein
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline rogermcd

cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2008, 04:43:05 am »
I have a leaky mitral valve and have been doing long distance cycling for years with no problems. The fitter I get the better it seems. I am 64 this year and am planning to the WE+TransAm in May 2009, solo if necessary

I have had irregular hard beat all my life but have never needed a pacemaker, so far. I started taking two fish oil capsules about three years ago during a serious bout of what turned out to be atopic arythmia (the good kind) and the  arythmia disapeared within  two days. I have not been off it since and take  this along with me on all my long rides

Its worth a try





Offline johnsondasw

Re: cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 12:59:58 am »
Roger: It's great you have found a solution!  My situation seems to run all over the family.  I am able to do all the biking I want now, and am even getting stronger than I've been for some time.....the wonders of a consistent blood supply to the muscles!  So the story's good for now.  I enjoy each ride, and have started touring again (actuallyu last May).  Hopefully this will continue, however, I'm learning you never know with cardiac rhythm stuff.  For now, the doctors see no reason why I should further problems. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 04:22:11 am »
Sorry, I don't have much experience in this area. I had my heart checked out in 2002 the last time. It was an expensive procedure, about $7000.00. The Dr. told me my biggest problem was indigestion. He told me to take Pecid AC. He was right. I took it, and all the discomfort disappeared. He also said it appeared I had no heart trouble. He said from the looks of it I have never had and will not ever have a heart attack. I guess that means I may be around for quite a few more years yet.

Offline HONDO

Re: cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2009, 09:21:18 am »
7 years ago I was diagnosed with atrial fib.It had gotten to the point that it changed who i was meaning I couldnt exercise at all without going into fib or worrying about going into it and when I was in fib I would be fatigued and unable to climb a flight of stairs without being short of breath. my dr. told me it decreases cardiac output by as much as 25% and I fully believe it did.They put me on sotalol twice a day and I got my life back. I now bike as far I want, hike, whatever. Sure, theres the occasional extra beat but not often.I dont know when or if the medicine will quit working but until it does I decided Im not missing out on the chance to push my body on the bike in hopes of some day doing the transam. good luck to all who have a cardiac condition of any kind and dont give up,just pace yourself, go slower. you will get there.Whos in a hurry any way?

Offline johnsondasw

Re: cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2009, 11:25:39 pm »
Congrats for getting back up and going for it.  I feel the same way--don't give up, attack your challenges and find a way to keep biking, hiking, whatever it is that feeds you.  Life keeps throwing challenges at us, and the trick is to figure them out.  My heart rhythm issue has been through may different stages over the past 2 years.  I'm developing confidence that i will be able to continue to adjust.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Jesterrider

Re: cardiac pacemakers and touring
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2009, 10:02:59 pm »
My condition is different and maybe not as serious.  I am now 68 years old.  One year ago, I had three arterial cardiac stints "installed".  Prior to having this procedure, I was getting winded very easily, and had to leave a tour after three days.  Since then I have greater indurance and I have biked 60 and 70 mile days on tour with a full gear load, and have completed several tours. 

Jesterrider.