Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This post was first published on July 10, 2017.
After 2 heart attacks, 3 pacemakers, 4 husbands and 35 years of atrial fibrillation, I realized that the best medication is exercise.
Move the body! I grew up in the forties and fifties when playing outdoors was as important as eating and was more important than homework. Even in winter we played outdoors…sports and recess in school, sledding and snowball fights, even shoveling snow. In summer we played out of doors with our friends and explored everything, sometimes we played outside all day and into evening when our parents yelled at the kitchen door that it was time to come in for dinner. We were exhausted at night and slept well.
On rainy days we put on shows in the empty garage where our one car was kept and Dad had it at work. Or we played paper dolls in the house or on the porch. On hot summer days a parent would drop us off at the public swimming pool and we would stay in the water all afternoon between scheduled rest periods.
It was natural to walk and run wherever we were going, even to the bus stop. Sometimes we rode our bikes. That was until I had a car at age 16.
I started exercise walking in my forties getting up to 4 miles almost every day. It took an hour. I loved it…walking outside or on a treadmill. My HDL was over 50… a decent number for the high density lipoproteins. In 1980 I was diagnosed with atrial fib. That’s when I noticed it though it probably occurred sporadically for years before I felt it. I still walked on days it didn’t give me shortness of breath or tire me out.
In 2000 I had 2 heart attacks. The left anterior descending coronary artery was 50% blocked. The nickname for that artery is “the widow maker.” A few weeks later I had a robotic bypass. A year after that I married Ed. Two years after that I retired from my job. Exercise walking had given me lower body strength, but my upper body was weak.
READ NEXT WEEK’S BLOG TO FIND OUT HOW I REVERSED ALL DAMAGE FROM 2 HEART ATTACKS, ENDED ATRIAL FIB, AND NOW AT ALMOST 80 YEARS OLD I CAN DO 100 PUSH UPS, PLANKS, WEIGHTS, SPINNING BIKE AND MUCH MORE.
Read more in my recent memoir: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib