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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cyclist's heart set on title


Cyclist's heart set on title 18 October 2006
By JANE MARSHALL
Top Kiwi cyclist Hayden Roulston will ride for a national title just seven weeks after being told he has a potentially fatal heart condition.
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Gary Moller comments:
Top Kiwi cyclist Hayden Roulston will ride for a national title just seven weeks after being told he has a potentially fatal heart condition.

Upon being diagnosed as having a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia Roulston was advised to cease competitive cycling; but he is refusing to do so and has entered the NZ road championships much to the dismay of the organisers and fellow cyclist who fear his causing a crash and the possibility of their having to administer the Kiss of Life to him.

I have written several articles over the years about the ease by which athletes are easily misdiagnosed as having abnormal hearts when it is no such thing. Read this article here. Of course, we should never take cardiovascular matters lightly and I urge you to read these articles.
http://www.survivalsuit.co.nz/Newsletters/Sudden_death_during_exercise.
htmlhttp://www.survivalsuit.co.nz/Newsletters/Heart_Attack.html
In the case of a youthful gifted endurance athlete like Hayden Roulston who develops a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia and who just happens to have a heart the size of a football (In such cases this is healthy and not the usual unhealthy heart that cardiologists deal with daily) we should take the matter seriously while considering the possibility that the causes and the solutions could actually be very simple to the point of being so ridiculously obvious. It is possible that the cause is one or a combination of any of the following:
  • Chronic, excessive use of caffeine, ephidrine, BZP and other stimulants (Endemic in road cycling)
  • Depletion of essential fatty acids (Hardly a surprise, given the poor diets of some male athletes)
  • Depletion of essential minerals, principally magnesium (I would bet my reputation that Mg levels are low)
  • Excessive high intensity training and competition without sufficient, extrended recovery (A problem with young professionals who never have an off season nowadays)
  • Vitamin D deficiency (This may occur in cyclist with poor diets and training for long periods in cool ot cold climates, having to cover up from neck to toe to keep warm)
If any of the above are happening with a young athlete, it is no wonder that the electrical activity of the heart muscle goes awry. This is a common experience in athletes (including myself) who train very hard. It is possible that there may even be pathologic physical changes to the heart, including sloppy heart valves, because things are getting a bit mis-shapen and flabby due to the poor nutrition and the inefficient function of the heart muscle.
The solutions may be as simple as this:
  • A few weeks of complete rest before resuming a very gradual aerobic buildup over 12 weeks or longer before re-introducing high intensity work
  • Getting immediately onto a completely heart-healthy diet as outlined in this article by Dr G Blazey
  • Eliminating all stimulants, including coffee
  • Boosting vitamin D levels if need be
  • Taking a multi mineral plus a special magnesium supplement (This is a must for all athletes who are in serious training and competition)
  • Taking up to 8 fish oil capsules per day, plus supplementary vitamin E, plus a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed oil blend. (all available from http://www.myotec.co.nz/ )
  • Ongoing monitoring by a suitably traineed and equipped physician
With this simple, low-tech regime and medical supervision there may be no need for medication and a resolution of any arrhythmia problems should happen within a week or so. With time and the improved nutrition, the heart will tone and tighten and be much stronger and more efficient and durable than ever. If there is no resolution of the heart problem as a result of these measures, nothing is lost and much still gained: the risks of a fatal cardiovascular turn are reduced and the young ex-athlete is much the healthier overall for doing so.
While wishing Hayden all the best at his attempt to win the NZ title this coming weekend, it is still far too early for him to be doing intense competitive effort. Why the rush? He should be doing the programme that is outlined above and be on a carefully monitored buildup over a year or even longer at which time the decision is then made whether or not to resume intense competition. He's young and has plenty of time to make a comeback in great style - so why not take a year off Hayden? Go on a health kick and do some study or something else that is less strenuous than racing a bike then come back and kick butt in real style. Now that would really be something!
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