Atrial Fribulation

I am 50 year old with a lifelong history of, sometimes quite intense, exercise. Earlier this year my doctor found, inadvertently, that I had Atrial Fribulation. I am completely asymptomatic (but now paranoid). I have had one session of Cardioversion but it lasted only some 3 days which indicates there was no merit in a repeat session. I am on Warferin keeping my INR between 2 and 3.
What I want to know is what exercise I can do. I would like to continue running (up to and including marathons), cycling and swimming and was also considering taking up rowing. Advice please


  • I don't see why you shouldn't continue to exercise just because you are in AF. However your exercise capacity may not be as great as your heart is not able to pump quite as effectively in this state - the 'cardiac output' or amount of blood the heart is able to pump around the body per minute will not be able to increase to the same extent as if you had a normal heart rhythm. In otherwise you may become breathless at a lower level of exercise. This does assume of course that you have a 'structurally normal' heart - it is possible to develop atrial fibrillation with an otherwise normal heart, but it can also occur in people who have an abnormal heart such as a leaking heart valve/ coronary artery disease...It is likely that this has all been ruled out by the doctors looking after you. Were you told that your heart was otherwise OK? Have you asked your doctor about whether or not you may exercise?
    One other thing to remember is that because you are on warfarin you will be much more prone to bruise or bleed significantly if you fall or otherwise injure yourself doing sport, so you must take this into account when choosing your activities!
  • <Buts in out of interest>

    Is AF the irregular heartbeat thing?
  • yes dustboy-it is
    Ironman-mail me if you want on this
    I assume you have had an echocardiogram(heart scan)
    I cant see a problem with you exercising -if that is normal-and you are asynptomatic
  • I have had an echocardiogram and it shows I have a “slightly distended lower left chamber” which may be a cause or an effect of the AF. I have also done a treadmill ECG which raised no eyebrows. The consultant I have spoken with is encouraging me to continue with exercise but advises against “going anaerobic” so I am digging out the old HRM
  • Should be OK then. Just don't overdo it! Good luck.
  • I'm 83 & have run for 70+ yrs, but last year when perhaps not fully over a cold I was reduced to walking & often breathless. Dr sent me to cardiologist who said warfarin for life after cardioversion. However have steadily got going & can manage a 10k if don't exceed 'conversational pace' & walk steepest hills.I train about 5X/month & usually fl better after 2-3m. My dr is supportive - we neither fancied the cardio/warfarin route. A letter in May mag gave a similar experience. Any similar experiences or comments?



  • Drs confirm that I have AF; cardiologist says I need warfarin & cardiov'n; GP willing for me to follow the 'active treatment'.



  • In September had my first ever bout of AF and ended up in hospital for a couple of days to get it under control - it just came out of no where and I'm pretty sure my stressed reaction to it didn't help the situation. Over the last 3 months i've had a 24hr ECG, an echo and a treadmill test all of which have come back clear.  

    I have been running gently and started back seriously on the treadmill recently, plan is to run my first 5 mile cross-country on Sunday - although my wife isn't happy for me to do this I need to just to get back to feel relatively "normal".

    I think for me, this happening out of the blue is the biggest thing to get over, if running can help me do that then i'm happy - it will just take time to get back to where I was before.

  • I'm now 85 and continuing to run. The AF is still there but I can still manage 5 - 6m once a week. Between runs I have 2/3 brisk walks up Orrest Head which overlooks Windermere  - I feel this keeps me in reasonable condition & enables me to feel reasonably fresh for my next run - which is a lot slower than pre-AF, but it's good to still get out & do the odd 5 or 10k!   I take a daily BP capsule and a mini-aspirin.



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