Heart troubles and XC skiing?

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Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:53 am

Does XC have any more heart-related accidents than other sports? Biking?

I've heard of a couple mt-biking related incidents in the past year.

I know of a couple long term scary a-fib situations with XC. Plus several tragedies.

Two of our top local skiers developed a-fib in their 50's. One top local road cyclist.

Maybe XC, and in particular ski-skating, just lets us work so much harder? All 4 limbs... Skating seems famous for putting a greater overall load on the body for many people. Even among elites the skate load seems higher since tempo is lower.

The 1st fatal incident that I recall was a couple decades ago now -- but I don't recall if it was skate-related.

Just had an outdoor sports friend comment that no other sport lets him work so hard or works him so hard.

When I do long max classic uphills I can get a bit "twinkly" -- spots appearing in vision periphery.

I do nearly all singletrack classic skiing in recent years -- that seems to keep me skiing "within myself" even when going hard. When I do get onto the grooming or do a groomed race I notice that I can go a lot harder. There's nothing else to think about than putting the hammer down and keeping it there as best as possible. With singletrack skiing there's so much ski-handling going on that some attention is inevitably diverted from max propulsion effort.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby MN Hoser » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:07 pm

Yeah, I have an f-'ed up rhythm. I think it's common.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby jt10000 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:19 am

I was in an ski marathon where someone died of a heart attack. Passed by while he was receiving CPR, but he didn't make it. Very disturbing. And it is possible a skier from Dartmouth died of a heart attack in a ski marathon this year http://fasterskier.com/article/eisa-rac ... h-circuit/. So it happens.

I'm doubtful there is much connection with skiing in particular, as opposed to other endurance sports - we know of people dying of heart attacks do all sorts of things. Even swimming. Work. Etc. We'd need much more careful study to make that connection.

Worth getting a stress test from time to time. I've only had one - a few years ago - and perhaps should get another one. Or a good check-up more regularly.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby MN Hoser » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:07 am

Everything (with the heart rhythms) depends on the details. Some arrhythmias are bad, some ok. I believe there is research out there showing that athletes have more heart arrhythmias (hope I'm spelling that correct) and I believe they may even go back into normal rhythms when they cut their training to more pedestrian levels.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby Chris » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:16 pm

There was a study released fairly recently that used Swedish Vasaloppet skiers as the data set. I believe they found the more Vasaloppets that were done the higher rate of heart problems. If you search fasterskier.com you can probably find a link to it.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby jt10000 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:59 am

Chris wrote:There was a study released fairly recently that used Swedish Vasaloppet skiers as the data set. I believe they found the more Vasaloppets that were done the higher rate of heart problems. If you search fasterskier.com you can probably find a link to it.

Here is a detailed English language summary of that:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806 ... c=154060AV

This may be behind a paywall for some people, so here is a super-rough paraphrase of conclusions: strong association between arrythmia and extreme endurance exercise (long and hard). But we don't know if there is causation, and at least as importantly exercise helps health in other ways. So be aware of this, and you and your doctor should keep an eye on it. Oh, and speculation that being careful in training (good recovery, which also helps increase vomax) might help reduce risk.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby hegel » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:28 am

I had my first ever episode of afib last season after three pretty hard days of skiing. The funny thing is, I felt great all three days. I skated two days and classic skied the other day. Now: it was very cold and I slept in a heated cabin. Dry air. It's possible that I became dehydrated. Also, I ski at altitude--6500 to 7500 feet--but live at sea level. (My resting heart rate at Lake Tahoe is about 15 beat per minutes higher than it is at home.)

I went into afib after returning home. Very scary; I had no idea what was going on. Since then I've had two more episodes over the last year, but I put myself into the third episode I think by using pseudophed and afrin for two weeks when I had a terrible cold--stimulants! Bad!

In any case I've dialed back my aerobic regime, including gym workouts where I used to go way past the recommended heart rate for my age, thinking that this was a good thing. now, I keep a lower heart rate and just go longer.

by the way, I put on a heart rate monitor when I started skiing again and was surprised at how high my rate went when skate skiing in particular.

I've also read recent reports about studies that indicate marathon runners are at risk for heart issues.

I've temporarily stopped skate skiing, although I still classic. I want to see how things go. This was a big disappointment for me initially but I've become resigned and taken up easy back country skiing as a compensation. I keep my heart rate reasonable. Look, I'm 59 years old and having to come to grips with my limitations, even though it hurts. Not for ego reasons but because I love this sport, even though I'm not that good at it, and I hate to leave skate skiing and strong classic skiing behind. But what can you do? Except have fun going slower in the back country perhaps.

But who knows? If we finally get some decent snow I may discover that my classic skiing is as good as ever! I can't tell yet this season because of all the rocks in the way of my skis!

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:19 am

hegel wrote:I had my first ever episode of afib last season after three pretty hard days of skiing.


Best wishes on adapting to a sub-redline reality. You can do it! :)

It's a world of riches if not as much oblivion. Red-lining is a great thing that fully occupies one while doing it. But there's so much more. It's a (forced) chance to develop the aspects of the amateur over that of the pro. Other skills. Bring better snacks. Start a little campfire along the way. More photography? (I find it's hard for me to compose photos on an outing where I'm stoking the furnace to the max.) Do some winter fishing, maybe -- the best food going. ...Teaching and coaching! Winter camping? In low snow maybe just mix hiking and skiing. In spring skiing I hike between snowfields and can enjoy the mix.

I recall low heart-rate exercise, LDS, being suggested to be by far most of one's workouts anyway. I wonder if Masters athletes tend to get that ratio out of whack. If you only have an hour or less a day maybe oldsters tend to mostly hit it hard. I took a J Downing clinic once where he said oldsters are still supposed to periodize workouts acc to same ratios as youngsters -- include a few easy ones each week even if hours are low. It was a bit hard for me to swallow but I've seen it work pretty much -- yet I know I don't do at all a similar ratio of easy hours.

The only time I did a study with Scandi NCAA skiers when we all turned in our paperwork the diff b/w me and them each week was that they had more than twice as many easy hours as I did! I had the same speedwork and interval hours. When I skied with them I did notice that they did often do easy workouts full of play (making jiffy ski jumps) while still skiing with superior technical skill compared to what I was used to (very close together). But they were students and I was working. When I had time to ski I tended to go hard but they piled on easy hours.

It's probably hard to do studies on this. I recall that Vasa study, so I suppose that's as good as we're going to get. It *does* seem that skating is a massive load on the whole body, with more than just heart-rate involved, and more than classic. One would think swimming would do likewise, but I suppose there's a reason they say XC builds more VO2-Max than other sport. And I think they've been saying that from well before skating -- have they re-measured? I see just "cross country skiing" and cycling popping up in the charts as being top VM sports, but Classic is different from Skating! Daehlie has the highest recorded VM in one reference and he was a skate specialist, right?
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby runcyclexcski_uk » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:29 am

It sounds like the occurrences follow the law of small numbers so far (a guy dying here and there). Jeff, I would be more concerned with more common XC-induced ailments, like asthma, for example (50% of elite skiers have it). And if I die during a ski marathon, great! But don't ski over my body please, let me go in dignity.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby jt10000 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:46 am

runcyclexcski_uk wrote: And if I die during a ski marathon, great! But don't ski over my body please, let me go in dignity.

Haha. Yes!
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby rmattson » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:04 am

I don't know about any more or less than biking or other activities. I know of people in both that have just dropped mid exercise. This happened just last month. I heard it was a heart issue but I do not know for certain.

http://www.silentsports.net/Content/Def ... -3/39/1930
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby runcyclexcski_uk » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:03 pm

When biking, I would be way more concerned about getting hit by a car than having a heart attack. Personally know people who got hit by cars (including cases of having been converted into a vegetative state), who have metal plates in their sculls etc etc. Don't know anyone who had a heart attack. So, pay more attention to traffic than to your fancy heart-rate monitor and GPS device.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Would the cases of afib and other glitches also likely fall into the "law of small numbers" category? Like "it happens"?
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby russ ludeke » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Evidence for exercise-induced arrhythmias has been around awhile.

A 1971 study compared HR monitoring to treadmill testing: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/44/5/826.short

The Vasaloppet study is newer:
http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/con ... ht188.full

A physician reviewing the Vasaloppet study says he's not surprised and thinks the arrhythmias are inflammation related but he doesn't give supporting evidence:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806552

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby hegel » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:38 pm

According to my doctors I have no heart issues, other than the afib episodes. In fact I always pushed my heart rate while exercising, thinking that this was healthy. Now I'm thinking that I overdid this as I aged. I've backed off on a higher heart rate while exercising and skiing. Also wine drinking--two glasses tops at night. (That darn Bevmo 5 cent wine sale got to me for a while.) I haven't had an episode for a while now--fingers crossed.

Backpacking and skiing at altitude remain a concern, although I don't know if this is a correct concern or not. My condition is "idiopathic"--no known cause--so it's hard to figure out what to do or not do to stop a future occurrence.

I just put this out for anyone who might experience the same thing. It's confusing when it happens out of the blue.

I'm obviously leaning towards the conclusion that it's possible to over work the heart over time, and that arrythmias may result.


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