View Full Version : Pacemakers + Beta Blockers and Competition Training

September 6th, 2006, 10:32 PM
This is my first posting to this site. Iím hoping to get some input regarding my training situation. Thereís a bit of a story involved, but Iíll be brief.

I started swimming five years ago at the age of 45 after a heart attack. I re-learned to swim on a masters team with the help of my very patient coach. To say that swimming changed my life would be to understate in the extreme. Last Fall (at first reluctantly) I began competing in meets here in Los Angeles. I got hooked, and made great progress, my times dropping as we moved through the meet season.

As much as my cardiologist is amazed by my training, his evaluation of certain elements of my condition led to my having minor surgery this past May to implant a defibrillator/pacemaker. There was no incident or event that prompted this decision, and Iíve never had any problem while training.

I was out of the pool for 6 weeks and have since built back up to a training schedule of 5 days a week 3-4K yards a session. My strength and endurance are coming back to pre-procedure levels, if more slowly than Iíd like. Getting my speed back is a little more frustrating.

After the procedure, I was prescribed a low dose of a beta blockeróCoreg. Even at this low dose Iíve seen a drop in my resting heart rate as well a significant change in how my heart rate accelerates with exercise. Where once I had to swim quite slowly to keep it at 120bpm for a fat burning set, I now have to work a set pretty hard to get it up past 120. In going through a work out, the rate does step up in stages and can reach 135-140, but only after 30 or more minutes. Stoke work ups it more quickly. During rest the heart rate drops quickly back to resting rate.

Iím hoping that there will be those of you who have experience with training on beta blockers and/or coming back from a pacemaker or defibrillator procedure, especially in relation to how it may have affected competition. Iím also interested in finding a cardiologist in the Los Angeles area who treats athletes and/or participants in sports at a competitive level.

Thanks for your timeÖ

Luke Reichle

September 9th, 2006, 05:24 PM
I had a chat today with one of the Kaiser physicians when I went to register for the L.A. Triathalon. I'm doing the swim portion tomorrow with my team. He was the first doctor of any kind that I've spoken to who had a competative/athletic take on the situation.

He indicated that since the meds are only going to allow your heart rate to go up so much, that you can expect your speed to be compromised, that when you need to step on the gas in a race that your heart rate won't go up to support it. His suggestion was to get into longer distance events.

He felt that the presence of a pacemaker/defibrillator would have neither a positive or negative affect on times once one had recovered from the surgery and your body had accomidated the device.

At any rate, with meet season coming up, I'll get the oportunity to "swim it and see."


September 9th, 2006, 06:14 PM
I'm glad you ran into this physician and his information regarding the pacemaker/drugs is correct.

I don't know where you are in Los Angeles, but Dr. Larry Drum is located in Long Beach. Though not a cardiologist, he is an excellent physician and works closely with Olympic athletes as well older individuals. I have several clients with various medical issues whom he helps. His wife is Kathy Heddy -- a USOC Athlete of the Year and former National record holder in swimming, so he has a great understanding of the sport.

Good luck to you!!

September 9th, 2006, 08:45 PM
thanks for the Dr. Drum lead. I'll check him out.