I got a link to this New Yorker article from my friend Stacie, from Louisville. It addresses the exact same concerns I had when I did this post on extreme exercise and heart conditions. The New Yorker Article has quotes from both Dr. James O’Keefe and Dr. John Mandrola, both who I now know personally. These guys are avid athletes and have both personally experienced the results of their beliefs. Both have heart issues and are heart doctors, plus very good athletes. So, they are really the messengers of bad news, even if we don’t want to hear it.
If you read the New Yorker article, it says that every doctor that the author, who also is a cardiologist, interviewed for her article, said “every cardiologist I spoke to who studies this issue is a current or former endurance athlete.” I found that interesting. So, these guys are just like us. They would like exercise to be the fountain of youth that its been touted to be, but for a small minority of us, it is a poison.
And small minority is the key, I hope. It says that doing extreme exercise will up your chances of atrial fibrillation 5 fold, from .3% chance to 1.5%. That is still pretty low. But it’s enough that if you think you have any issues, you should get checked out.
I did. I actually called Dr. O’Keefe and went over to Kansas City and he did a scan of my heart. That was nearly two years ago. I don’t have any plan to change my lifestyle, but am cognizant of the potential issues that could arise.
I think all the doctors that are involved in this controversial topic are trying to do the best they can for their patients. It seems like many of the studies have been done on runners, not so much on cyclists. Eventually, this heart issue vs. extreme exercise is going to be a very hot topic for general health. There are a lot of us that would be perfect test subjects for the studies. Athletes that have been exercising continually since they were teenagers.
Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a scare post. It is just a heads up for something that we all need to be aware of. There is no downside for looking out for the symptoms of something, no matter how small the percentage is, that could be a life threatening issue.
Here is a video that Dr. O’Keefe did a couple years ago. It explains some of his ideas.