10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

The foundations for successful riding

10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:58 pm

Hi,

Two weeks ago I cycled 700kms in 6 days from Newcastle to the Gold Coast. This was meant to be a first feel for how I'd handle touring and next I want to cycle from Perth to Sydney next year.

My problem is that I have an enlarged heart due to years of high blood pressure, I have pains in the left of my chest, though so far it doesn't seem to be related to my heart and my dad died of heart-related issues at age 42, I'm 38 tomorrow. On the trip up to the Gold Coast, I finished cycling at 15:00, latest 16:00 every day and yet I could hear and feel my heart beating in my ears/neck when I got into bed at 7-8ish every night.
I didn't feel bad and the exercise didn't bring on the chest pains.

I'm going to go see my GP next week to try to find out what these pains are (we previously thought it was related to stomach problems), but I'm too impatient to wait for an answer. I'm quite eager to do the Perth-Sydney trip, but obviously I don't want to ride myself into the grave.

My question is whether 8-10 hours in the saddle for an extended period, 30+ days, would be unhealthy for my heart? Generally exercise is good, I'm just not certain about this type of extremes.

thanks,

Dirk
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

by BNA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:20 pm

BNA
 

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby jules21 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:20 pm

i've found that stress can exacerbate these things. if you are worried about your heart, which you clearly are, then you're more likely to hear it in bed as your mind wanders and external noise abates.

this presents a dilemma - ignoring it may help reduce stress levels, but if there was a genuine medical issue, that's not the right strategy. i'm not a doctor so obviously i can't advise.
Image
User avatar
jules21
 
Posts: 8547
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:14 pm
Location: deep in the pain cave

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:53 pm

I don't think it matters if it is one hour or 10.Because in one hour super hard you can stress your heart harder than you can cruising for 8-10 hours.
Simple...if in doubt, check it out...not worth asking here,go and see a specialist and get a good check up then ride with a clear mind if he says all i good.
Image
User avatar
toolonglegs
 
Posts: 14327
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:49 pm
Location: Somewhere with padded walls and really big hills!

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby wombatK » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:42 am

justD wrote:My question is whether 8-10 hours in the saddle for an extended period, 30+ days, would be unhealthy for my heart? Generally exercise is good, I'm just not certain about this type of extremes.

thanks,

Dirk

I wouldn't be ignoring it. Heavy training damages muscles, including possibly heart muscle. Most doctors recommend moderate exercise for people with compromised health, and your schedule is pretty well outside what they have in mind as moderate.

The bed-time symptoms you've describe sound a little like palpitations of some type or possibly an arrythmia. Chest pains of any kind should be investigated by your doctors ASAP, doubly so on account of your family history. Cardiologists will probably tell you that the athletes who have sudden heart attacks during endurance events or training are one with undiagnosed thickened heart walls and arrythmias.

There are some people who advocate that extreme endurance exercise (eg running marathons) is not good at all - see for example Arthur De Vany's How many hearts are damaged.

For a more moderate review of what is known, see The Physiological Effects of Endurance Events from curtin uni.

Cardiac Considerations

The risk of cardiac muscle damage has been suggested in the endurance athletes, with the possibility of small areas of myocardial necrosis occurring during pronged intense exercise. This hypothesis was not supported in a study looking into the levels of enzymes that indicate myocardial damage during a professional cycling race that lasted 22 days. The authors of this study suggest that there is no permanent damage of the myocardium of top level athletes, although there was an increase of these enzymes over the course of the 22 days (Bonetti et al, 1995).

The bulk of the research looks at top level athletes - people who are basically freaks of nature to start with. Most of the evidence relates to marathon runners, and there isn't much on cycling. Elite athletes could be unrepresentative of more average people -for example, the demands of training might weed out those who's cardiovascular system isn't so resilient to damage. For people whose family history or symptoms put them in the below average category, there is probably far less (if any) evidence to go by. So the medical experts might not be able to give you clear science-based assurance that you aren't damaging your heart.

With the marathon runners, it seems to be the ones who over-train and don't allow adequate recovery time that get into cardiac trouble.

I haven't seen anything that would directly translate a marathon runners effort into a cycling terms. Elite cyclists do tours where they ride 150 to 200 km almost every day over 3 weeks with just one day recovery per week. I'm not aware of any marathon events where the runners run a marathon every day for 3 weeks; some may run one or two marathons a week in training. So it's tempting to think that cycling 100 km per day shouldn't be putting your heart into the red-zone. But if your cardiovascular system is not in the best starting condition, your limit might need to be lower. The palpitations are sign that your heart rhythm is disturbed - it's telling you something's not happy about the workload and you might be hitting the red-zone.

There may be a reason why you are not feeling the symptoms immediately when riding. Digestion of meals puts a much bigger demand on your heart (IIRC, around 20% extra) - and it could be the "straw" that breaks the camels back in terms of over-stressing your heart.

Provided the doctors are happy there's nothing more serious, maybe you should back-off your workload and schedule it so there is a good recovery period between each ride. Rather than try to hit a big target like 100 km, it might be better to set smaller goals that don't cause you any subsequent chest discomfort - and then see if you can build up in gradual increments without discomfort. I suspect riding to Perth in 50 km legs, with rest periods every other day (touring local attractions etc.,.) could still be a whole lot of fun.
WombatK

Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us -Jerry Garcia
User avatar
wombatK
 
Posts: 5188
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:08 pm
Location: Yagoona, AU

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby Cycotic » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:34 am

Firstly, if you are having heart abnormalities, see your doctor immediately. Don't think you're wasting their time.

Secondly, heart rhythm abnormalities can be the result of you getting fitter. There's a very good article on it in dailypeloton.
User avatar
Cycotic
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:43 am
Location: Adelaide, SA (Blackwood)

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby ni78ck » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:41 am

happy birthday :D
Oppy Le Mauco - Dura Ace (wet weather bike)
Cervelo S5 VWD - dura ace Di2
User avatar
ni78ck
 
Posts: 2362
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:15 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby Parrott » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:53 am

Happy Birthday also, may you have many more of them.

You have indicated a familial history of heart disease and confirmed the presence of heart disease in the form of cardiomegaly. This a response of your heart to chronic increased workload and means it has less ability to respond to increased workload or has less reserve. With all due respect a cycling forum probably isn't the perfect medium to be gaining advice on your heart and how hard to work it. Go and see a cardiologist and be guided by a qualified expert on the subject.
User avatar
Parrott
 
Posts: 2960
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:45 pm

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:25 pm

Thanks people,

By all means I will see my doctor. I already have an appointment for next Thursday and I won't make any decisions based on what's said on the forum here. I was just looking for some hope that it might be okay while waiting for next week and however long it takes after that to eventually get to a cardiologist etc.
The reason I'm still hoping that I could continue is because I really don't think these pains are related to my cycling at all. I've had pains in my chest before I even had this bike and the last test I had on my heart, last year July, (EKG or something) said "within normal parameters", but a sonar at the same time said that I have a slightly enlarged heart.

As for stress on my heart, I am way too lazy to call myself an athlete:) I cycle at 15-20kph and slower with the slightest wind or hill, so my heart very seldom races at a high speed.

The 50kms per day would be relaxing yes, but I won't soon get to a point where I can have that much annual leave to cycle Perth to Sydney at 50km/day. 'k, I'll start playing the lotto, that is quite appealing.

Anyway, thank you. You've given me what I was looking for and I'll give an update once I get some news from the experts.

Dirk
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby casual_cyclist » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:53 pm

I do not consider myself to be very fit although I do ride long distances sometimes. The reason is that climbing even a gentle slope makes me breathe hard and even maintaining a faster speed on the flats can puff me out. Personally I find the intensity of the riding puts my heart rate up rather than the distance. I have ridden 300km in a day (18 hours including rests) but took it easy and didn't get puffed or have a racing heart all day. On another ride, which was very hilly, I was huffing and puffing within an hour with my heart racing.

If you are worried though, a cheap heart rate monitor will tell you how hard you are pushing it. One of my co-riders rides with a HRM with an alarm so that he can stop if his pulse gets to a certain pre-set level. I don't know of any studies of the effects of long duration moderate exercise on heart muscles. They don't seem to study slow pokes like us, only elite athletes.
<removed by request>
User avatar
casual_cyclist
 
Posts: 7195
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:41 am
Location: Kewdale

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby wombatK » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:21 pm

justD wrote: I've had pains in my chest before I even had this bike and the last test I had on my heart, last year July, (EKG or something) said "within normal parameters", but a sonar at the same time said that I have a slightly enlarged heart.

As for stress on my heart, I am way too lazy to call myself an athlete:) I cycle at 15-20kph and slower with the slightest wind or hill, so my heart very seldom races at a high speed.

Good to hear you've been given an ok on the ECG and sonar previously.

Also reassuring that your speed is pretty moderate. Yet, at some point, doing something that's low intensity for too long becomes immoderate. I think most of us would be feeling pretty poorly if we'd just ridden for 72 hours non-stop at 20 kph. The difficulty is knowing where the dividing line falls - is it 48, 36, 24, 12 or 6 hours ? From an evolutionary viewpoint, there's not much need for us to have mechanisms that would support non-stop exertion for 72 hours - we can capture prey and forage for food successfully with much shorter but higher intensity efforts; so it should not be surprising if our bodies have far lower limits even at low intensity levels.

While it's best to ask your cardiologist, if he/she finds there is no obvious physical explanation, it might be worth asking whether dehydration or nutritional status might be giving you trouble. Dehydration can put extra load on your cardiovascular system, and not keeping up nutrition on very long rides can also give you a deficit that will leave you feeling crook.

Cheers
WombatK

Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us -Jerry Garcia
User avatar
wombatK
 
Posts: 5188
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:08 pm
Location: Yagoona, AU

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby casual_cyclist » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:38 pm

wombatK wrote:...it might be worth asking whether dehydration or nutritional status might be giving you trouble. Dehydration can put extra load on your cardiovascular system, and not keeping up nutrition on very long rides can also give you a deficit that will leave you feeling crook.

I was wondering about dehydration too. I have had the exact symptoms that you are talking about, hearing and feeling my heart beating in my ears/neck when I get into bed. However, for me it is very rare and passes after a couple of minutes. I've not really paid attention to the circumstances surrounding it happening as I don't have any underlying heart conditions but I was wondering if dehydration may be a cause. It is certainly possible and worth considering.
<removed by request>
User avatar
casual_cyclist
 
Posts: 7195
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:41 am
Location: Kewdale

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:02 am

casual_cyclist wrote:
wombatK wrote:...it might be worth asking whether dehydration or nutritional status might be giving you trouble. Dehydration can put extra load on your cardiovascular system, and not keeping up nutrition on very long rides can also give you a deficit that will leave you feeling crook.

I was wondering about dehydration too. I have had the exact symptoms that you are talking about, hearing and feeling my heart beating in my ears/neck when I get into bed. However, for me it is very rare and passes after a couple of minutes. I've not really paid attention to the circumstances surrounding it happening as I don't have any underlying heart conditions but I was wondering if dehydration may be a cause. It is certainly possible and worth considering.


That's very interesting indeed! I just used Google's suggestion tool to find out how to spell "diuretics" and found this in the first link I click on:
"The side-effects include dehydration which can lead to fatal kidney and heart failure."

Long story, but one of my problems is that I don't sleep well at night and part of this visit to the doc next week is to get another copy of the blood test form as I lost the previous one - Doc wants to test for sleep apnea. Last weekend I stopped drinking my diuretics because seriously, I think a big part of the problem is that I just can't go through the night without at least 3 visits to the little boys' room. At the time I didn't know it'd take 2 weeks to get an appointment with the doc.

Anyhow, point is that I do have a tendancy to drink too little while cycling and used to bonk out a lot, but I thought I had overcome that. May be that I now just drink enough to not bonk out on the road, but still get dehydrated to some extent. Don't know why I didn't realise that the diuretics may have some effect on my cycling.

Dirk
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby Tale » Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:31 am

justD wrote:Two weeks ago I cycled 700kms in 6 days from Newcastle to the Gold Coast. This was meant to be a first feel for how I'd handle touring and next I want to cycle from Perth to Sydney next year.


That's a pretty big effort, and I presume it was done with panniers? You pushed yourself more than you are used to, so your body will be going "you're doing WHAT to me?" and adjusting to cope with more of the same. If you push yourself too hard, it can elevate your heart rate for days afterwards as your body works overtime while resting. The solution to that is a few days of rest and healthy eating, with plenty of water, until you return to normal.

I'd back what others say about hydration. A good touring rule is: eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty. I don't believe in isotonic drinks or energy drinks as the main form of hydration - I function far better drinking tap water throughout the day and maybe grabbing an isotonic drink later, but relying on good healthy meals, plenty of fruit and regular water to help my body cope.

My question is whether 8-10 hours in the saddle for an extended period, 30+ days, would be unhealthy for my heart?


My answer is yes, it would be unhealthy. You should not plan to ride 30 days straight - you should insert rest days into your tour. They have rest days in the Tour de France, so you should too. I'd count on at least one rest day per week on a tour.
Fuji Roubaix RC 2009 - Trek 520 1998 - Touring videos - Commute
User avatar
Tale
 
Posts: 629
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:42 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:41 am

Tale wrote:
My question is whether 8-10 hours in the saddle for an extended period, 30+ days, would be unhealthy for my heart?


My answer is yes, it would be unhealthy. You should not plan to ride 30 days straight - you should insert rest days into your tour. They have rest days in the Tour de France, so you should too. I'd count on at least one rest day per week on a tour.


haha, considering how I felt after 6 days of riding up to the gold Coast, you're obviously right!! Maybe I'll aim for 6 days on, 1 day rest. But then I'd need to do 150kms per day to make it in the amount of annual leave days I'll have available at the time. Doable, but I'll have to train a bit more before then:)

Update on this. I went for a exercise stress test yesterday. Doc says my heart looks good, but my blood pressure did rise a bit too high during the exercise. As I said before though, I don't ride very fast and never get my HR up that high while on the bike, except up a really nasty hill - and I intend to lose a lot more weight before the big trip.
So I'm going to continue on and train as if I am going to do the Perth-Sydney ride in July. Doing a echocardiogram in a couple of weeks though and will speak to the cardiologist then and hear what he thinks.

I have managed to lose 4kgs in the month since I got back from the Gold Coast ride. Woohoo!!! Only another 15kgs to go to change from "Obese" to "Overweight" according to the BMI classification:)
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby sogood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:09 am

justD wrote:Update on this. I went for a exercise stress test yesterday. Doc says my heart looks good, but my blood pressure did rise a bit too high during the exercise. As I said before though, I don't ride very fast and never get my HR up that high while on the bike, except up a really nasty hill - and I intend to lose a lot more weight before the big trip.

So what's the diagnosis your cardiologist gave for your situation? Or just a minor heart enlargement with no other sequelae? As for BP, exercises and weight loss tend to do wonders on that. Finally, did you ask your cardiologist about your intended exercise routine? What did he say?
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16905
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:56 am

I didn't really get much feedback yesterday, except for "your heart looks pretty good".
They're sending the results to my GP, whom I've got an appointment with on Friday. However, I don't think there'll be any definitive answer till after the echocardiogram, which is only on the 20th. I'll make a point to ask for some specific "chatting time" with the cardiologist then.

Other than this stuff, I've had some other health scares these past 2 weeks, including the possibility of a carcinoid tumour, which I'll find out about on Friday... So that's kind of taken priority over the heart for now:(
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby sogood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:26 pm

justD wrote:...including the possibility of a carcinoid tumour, which I'll find out about on Friday... So that's kind of taken priority over the heart for now:(

That's a "beauty". Good luck!
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16905
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:46 pm

sogood wrote:
justD wrote:...including the possibility of a carcinoid tumour, which I'll find out about on Friday... So that's kind of taken priority over the heart for now:(

That's a "beauty". Good luck!


Well at least that's behind me... Had a bit of stress flying around because of that thing, but turns out I don't have a tumour!!! :D They still don't know what's wrong with me, but we can tick that one off.

My GP is also a cyclist and after looking at the exercise stress test results, she said there's nothing wrong with my heart (she does know about the enlarged heart) and that I can continue with my plans to do the Perth-Sydney ride. So, it's looking positive, but I'll still wait to hear what the cardiologist has to say.
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:59 pm

Just some feedback on this:

Went to see my GP today about the results of the echocardiography. It turns out that I don't have an enlarged heart!!! I now remember how it came about me thinking that I have an enlarged heart, but I won't bore you with that.

Anyway, the doc said the left wall of my heart is a little thickened, but nothing to worry about. If I can keep my BP as low as it is now, that thickened wall will recover in time and what not. Anyway, she gave me the green light, so I'm going to do the Perth to Sydney trip next year!!

Got some work to do to get ready for it though :)

Thanks for all your comments and input.

regards,

Dirk
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby casual_cyclist » Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:30 pm

justD wrote:It turns out that I don't have an enlarged heart!!!
...
Anyway, she gave me the green light, so I'm going to do the Perth to Sydney trip next year!!

That is awesome news! Thanks for the update. When you are in Perth, please let the Perth cycling crew know so we can catch up with you and offer you some words of encouragement before you big trip! It should be fantastic.
<removed by request>
User avatar
casual_cyclist
 
Posts: 7195
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:41 am
Location: Kewdale

Re: 10-hour per day in the saddle and my heart

Postby justD » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:40 pm

casual_cyclist wrote:
justD wrote:It turns out that I don't have an enlarged heart!!!
...
Anyway, she gave me the green light, so I'm going to do the Perth to Sydney trip next year!!

That is awesome news! Thanks for the update. When you are in Perth, please let the Perth cycling crew know so we can catch up with you and offer you some words of encouragement before you big trip! It should be fantastic.


Thanks mate! It is still a couple of months away, but I will certainly start a thread about my trip closer to the time and intend to spend a day in Perth before the trip, so would be great to catch up.
User avatar
justD
 
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:50 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand


Return to Training

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users



Popular Bike Shops
Torpedo 7 Torpedo7 AU
Ground Effect Ground Effect NZ
Chain Reaction Cycles CRC UK
Wiggle Wiggle UK
Ebay Ebay AU



InTouch with BNA
“Bicycles BNA Twitter
“Bicycles BNA Facebook
“Google+ BNA Google+
“Bicycles BNA Newsletter