This past week was another week of “nothing.” I didn’t have any afib episodes or heart palpitations.
I also weighed in at 169 pounds today so the 171 pounds I weighed last week was just a simple shift in water weight. I’m very happy with where I’m at with my weight and I’m glad to see I have finally plateaued.
I increased the intensity of my exercises slightly. I try to get to the gym every weekday morning and this past week I only missed a couple days. I’m now walking on a treadmill at a rate of 4.5 mph with a 1.5% incline. I’m basically walking so fast I’m just shy of breaking into a jog to give you an idea of how brisk my walks are. I’m still not lifting any weights and won’t be until at least mid-June.
Exercise and Atrial Fibrillation
Joe, a loyal reader of this blog, brought an article to my attention in his comments to my update from last week. The article is about “safe” exercise levels for people with afib and this was the highlight of the article:
Among women, the risk of an AF episode was reduced by 24% for those who engaged in moderate exercise, and by 15% with vigorous exercise. In men, moderate exercise reduced the risk of an AF episode by 19%, but vigorous exercise raised the risk by 90%.
They defined moderate exercise as 15-30 minutes of walking five times a week or an activity like yoga. Vigorous exercise was defined as activities such as running, swimming, bicycling, and jogging.
I found the study fascinating but I wish they would have also studied the effects of moderate and vigorous weight lifting. Nonetheless, this study has me totally rethinking my workouts moving forward.
I may never go back to jogging as a result. I have been a jogger for years. In my 20’s and 30’s I was a vigorous jogger and an outright runner at times. I also did a lot of weight lifting. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I started doing light jogging and very light lifting.
When I start weight lifting again I will definitely stick to light lifting – basically just doing enough so that my muscles don’t waste away as I get older. I’ll probably do 20 minute sessions three times a week and then follow those with my 30 minute vigorous walks. My routine will look like this:
Monday: 20 minutes light lifting followed by 30 minutes vigorous walking
Tuesday: 30 minutes vigorous walking
Wednesday: 20 minutes light lifting followed by 30 minutes vigorous walking
Thursday: 30 minutes vigorous walking
Friday: 20 minutes light lifting followed by 30 minutes vigorous walking
Supplements & Muscle Twitching
As I’ve been posting in my past updates, I’ve been having some bizarre muscle twitching. I thought it might be an imbalance between my magnesium and calcium. As a result, I’ve been making sure I get around 1,000 mg of calcium every day for the past week either through my diet and/or supplements. I’m getting most of it by drinking more skim milk. I don’t know why I stopped drinking milk in the first place because I love milk!
After a week of getting 1,000 mg of calcium every day and about 1,000 mg of magnesium every day as well (1:1 ratio), the twitching has subsided substantially but it’s not totally gone. I’d say the muscle twitching is about 80% gone – enough that I’m fine with the occasional twitches here and there I feel throughout the day.
There is an important lesson here. It’s crucial that you balance any vitamins or minerals you take. I’ve always known this but have always ignored it. For the longest time I took massive doses of magnesium without balancing it with anything else and everything was fine.
I suspect that my diet has changed so drastically over the past several months during my weight loss that I was missing calcium in my diet so things were getting out of balance. Plus, the weight loss itself probably changed my body chemistry and reactions.
The main point is, if you’re taking massive doses of anything, but magnesium specifically in this case, and you’re experiencing some weird side effects, you may need to balance it with calcium. The other minerals that work with magnesium and calcium are potassium and sodium. All fours of these need to be balanced for your body to run efficiently and for your heart to beat normally. For us afibbers, these four are critical in keeping our atrial fibrillation in check.
What If I Have an Afib Episode at This Point?
I’m now eleven weeks past my ablation and so far my recovery has been text book. I haven’t had a single afib episode or even a heart palpitation. However, it dawned on me the other day what I would do at this point if I had an episode. Would I pop my Flecainide or go to the hospital for a cardioversion?
I honestly didn’t know the answer so I reached out to Dr. Natale’s nurse. Here was her response:
Dr. Natale wants to see how you will do without any medication. We would want you to document the episode if possible and contact our office. If you had an episode that lasts more than 10 -12 hrs and you feel really rotten you could take a dose of Flecainide and see if you convert. Make sure if you go out of rhythm for more than 24 hrs you start your Eliquis back. A cardioversion would not be ruled out. Let’s keep positive thoughts!
So it sounds like I’ll have to play it by ear. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping if I have an episode it’s first thing in the morning so I have a chance to call Dr. Natale to find out what I’m supposed to do. Like she said, positive thoughts! Hopefully I won’t have to worry about that for a very long time – like at least 3-5 years.