Forerunner data reveals a runner’s hidden heart condition
I just wanted to write a short note of thanks to the people at Garmin. I’ve been an active runner for many years, but it wasn’t until this past Christmas (2010) that I got a Forerunner 405CX. After running with the watch for four or five runs, I was a bit disappointed because I thought I was getting bad readings from the heart rate monitor. There were periodic spikes nearing 260 bpm, which I thought was impossible, throwing off all my readings. I was fed up and about to call support, but I went out for one more run. As chance would have it, I stopped running long enough to cross a busy street and noticed a slight fluttering in my chest. When I looked at my watch, it showed a reading of 265 bpm that lasted about 10 seconds. That night, I took myself to the ER, but they didn’t find anything wrong.
The next week I went to a cardiologist who had me run with a halter monitor which confirmed the readings I got from my Forerunner. A few tests and an invasive surgery later, I was confirmed to have something called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW). It’s a rather rare form of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) that only shows up under intense exercise. While the severe beating of the heart caused me no noticeable ill effects (I should have been lightheaded or passed out), it put me at very high risk of stroke or sudden death while running; and I never even knew it was there. As of this writing, I have had an ablation procedure to remove the two ancillary electrical paths that caused my arrhythmia. On Tuesday, I passed a cardiac stress test with flying colors and next Tuesday, I expect the doctor to give his approval for me to continue running again. If he does, I plan to pick up training for an April marathon, though with a two-month setback it may just be a half. Long story short, the Forerunner saved my life. Below is an example of a run in Garmin Connect which I thought was a bad reading, but actually revealed a very important symptom.
Thank you Garmin,
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