“I’m having a catheter ablation and I love to exercise. Everything I read says ‘You can resume normal activity in a few days.’ Can I return to what’s ‘normal’ exercise for me?”
Caution would say to start off slow, then work your way up. You could get a Polar (or other) heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate.
Your heart is considered healed from the scarring of the ablation after three months (possibly sooner). Often you feel so good being in sinus rhythm after an ablation, that you can’t wait to exercise, to do something physical.
But even though you feel great, it’s better to be prudent and rein yourself in for a short while.
Ed Webb, a very active exerciser, shares his experiences and insights. Ed writes:
“It seems the prevailing opinions seem to lean toward resuming normal activities a week to two weeks after the procedure. In fact that’s what my EP had recommended for me (the first time around). I started light walking and cycling, but unrelated to these activities I also was doing some outside work on my boat (during the fall here in Florida where it can be putrid).
On two separate occasions–I happened to be wearing a heart rate monitor–my heart was a comfortable 85 BPM and then WHAM back into A-Fib!
As I am one of those persistent A-Fibbers, I had to be cardioverted both times. This all happened within a span of 3 weeks after the procedure. Needless to say, I was somewhat discouraged thinking the ablation had been a failure.
My EP wasn’t too concerned and just advised me to hang in there. After the second cardioversion, I finally got the hint and took it really easy for the next month, after which I started a walking regimen where I allowed my heart rate to increase from 80 BPM on the first day up to 100BPM at an increase of 1 beat per day.
Once I hit the magic 100, I got back on the bike and picked it up from there and was fine after that (until 2 years later when I had another onset!). The bottom line is I think this all had to do with not allowing enough time for the scar tissue to heal.
My second time around (which was 2 years ago) I pretty much stuck to the same routine. First two weeks, absolutely nothing. Then easy walks allowing my heart rate to increase a little each day. I walked for a month (starting at 80 and finishing at 105).
After 6 weeks or so, I was back on the bike and doing maximum efforts by the end of 3 months. I have been in sinus rhythm ever since (that sound you hear is me knocking on my desk!)
Anyway, I hope this gives you at least one perspective for your recovery. All the best for your procedure.”—Ed Webb
Thanks to Monique Van Zeebroeck for this question and to Ed Webb for sharing his experiences and insight.
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