Why I Check my Oxygen Levels When I Ride

I have been trying to get ready for a the Avenue of the Oaks Century on May 1 and my training has been inconsistent at best….insert excuses here. Today I was able to spend 2 hours on a ride and I wanted to push a bit harder that normal.

SInce I no longer go to cardiac rehab. I try to mirror what the “maintenance” program I was on did when it comes to protocol. Each time I went to rehab the workout started with the following:

  1. Weigh myself.
  2. Relax and sit in a chair (of my own choice I closed my eyes and relaxed my whole body durigng the next steps).
  3. They would hook up the blood pressure cuff, and oxygen monitor.
  4. Then take the reading for my BP, resting HR & Oxygen level.

I do my best to do  all of the above things before I do any type of workout or riding (I’m in the market for a new blood pressure monitor as the electric one I had been using was not accurate when I brought with me to an appointment with my doctor and compared it with hers). Now during the cardiac rehab sessions they would check my oxygen levels 2-3 times, more if I was trying something new or pushing up a level of intensity. At home I only check it before I workout and occasionally after my cool down and when I push myself (now getting to the point of this entry) like I did today. Since I was heading out to ride twice as long as had I the past weeks I decided to take my Nonin Onyx Fingertip Oximeter with me to check throughout my ride. I want to point out at this point that this is same monitor 1 of my doctors uses, and 2 of my rehabs use so that is how I qualified it’s purchase. (one other point it is a nice way to check the accuracy of my heart rate monitor as well).

Today I used at the first sign of feeling like the ride should have been a bit easier and I didn’t believe my HRM, it was correct the oximeter read 138bpm and 98%O2. The next time was after a moderate climb and I hit 164 bpm (my doc say to stay under 160) Oximeter read 161bpm ( it took a few seconds to stop and put it on my finger) and 96% O2. It is also a good thing to have when I’m sucking wind and I can be sure it’s just from being out of shape vs a true loss of O2. I used it one more time when I started to feel tired and then after my cool down. I probably won’t bring it with me on a ride again until I do the century on May 1.

It is a useful tool to have if you work out on your own. It provides me with 2 things, 1: Ability to let me doctor know more information about my health & 2. Oxygen content of your blood is only a small factor when determining your risk for a cardiac event but it does provide me with a bit of assurance that my heart is doing O.K.

KEEPriding,

Eric

A New way of Life. Readers Story-

Just ran across your site. I really enjoyed reading your posts.

I’m 47 years old, mostly healthy, though out of shape. Saw the doc for a physical 5 months ago. Immediately was put on cholesterol and BP meds. 4 months later my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were good and I had lost 15 lbs. Then I had my heart attack. I had it during my first visit to a gym while working with a trainer. A clot broke loose and I had an immediate 100% blockage of the circumflex artery.

I’m 4 weeks past that. Just been released for Cardiac Rehab. A strange thing happened during my stress test prior to release to rehab. I realized that I loved the exercise! They got my heart rate up to 150 bpm, and I loved every moment. This was probably because I’d been wondering if I was always going to be physically limited. I want to turn this new feeling into a new way of life.

I’m looking for ways to increase my fitness, especially after I’m done with rehab.

While Googling “bicycling after a heart attack”, I found your site. It really gave me a lift. It’s great reading about someone who has had cardiac issues, but still loves to ride.

You’ve given me inspiration to stay on track, increase my fitness, and above all, get back on a bike!

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Tim

Please Tell Your Cardiac Story.

I’d (and I assume many others) would love to hear how you have dealt with, conquered or beaten heart disease. Do you still ride a bike, surf, mountain bike, bmx, skateboard, ski or snowboard since your heart attack or heart disease started? Any little story you have can go a long way in providing motivation for others who struggle with wanting to ride.

After you write your story here I’ll make a special page for it so other can communicate about it.

Thanks,

Eric

Prevention: Gains From Exercise After Heart Attack Are Lost if Exercise Stops

Published: March 20, 2009

Some important benefits of exercising after a heart attack can vanish in weeks if the exercise is stopped, a new study has found.

The researchers tested F.M.D. — flow-mediated dilation, a measure of the flexibility of an artery as blood flows through it — in 228 heart attack survivors. Their arteries averaged about 4.2 percent expansion, compared with the 10 percent considered normal in healthy people.

Then the scientists divided patients into four groups to undergo resistance training, aerobic exercise, both together, or no exercise program at all.

Finally, the exercisers “detrained,” remaining idle for four weeks.

The study, published in the March 16 issue of the journal Circulation, found that the dilation had increased to 5.3 percent in the people who had not exercised, but to an average of more than 10 percent in the training groups. After four weeks of detraining, dilation returned to almost exactly the initial levels in all three exercise groups.

“Cardiac rehabilitation is cheap,” said Dr. Margherita Vona, the lead author and director of cardiac rehabilitation at a clinic in Glion-sur-Montreux, Switzerland, “but the price of losing its benefits is high. It’s important to educate patients about exercise, and essential that they continue for the long term.”

Article Link


Controlling My Heart Rate While Riding.

“Mindfulness is built around the premise of disengaging from overly emotional responses and extraneous thoughts that clutter the mind’s ability to think clearly. By using techniques such as breathing, visual imagery and meditation to slow down and focus on the present, the theory goes, a person can tap into a higher level of awareness. The more acute awareness is the byproduct of more active brain waves brought on by meditation, studies have shown.”

Can I really control my heart rate? On Friday I didn’t have much time to ride (preparing for the Avenue of The Oaks) so I decided to do some hill repeats in preparation for April 4th. After warming up for about 1/2 hour I started riding a hill I like that is 0.6 miles/205′. S0 for me that was 5min 30sec – 6min 30sec with a coast back down of 2min 30sec ‘ish. My goal was to do 10, I made it to 8 before I limped home. My heart rate would range in the 145-150bpm range at it’s peak and by the time I recovered back down the hill and turned around to go at it again I’d be around 107-110bpm. After my 5th uphill battle I was approaching 155bpm a little too easy for my liking  my doc doesn’t like me to go more than 155 bpm for very long)  so I concentrated very hard and focused on my breathing pattern, almost a meditative trance if you will. I made deliberately strong exhales and inhales while imagining (invisioning) in a very real time way that my heart was very relaxed and barely working to pump. I also imagined every artery in my body was widening open as I had to make through the steepest section. When I glanced at my heart rate on my Garmin after 20-30 seconds my heart rate was 4-7 beats lower every time I did this. Now this isn’t scientific but I did make sure my cadence was same on each of the last 3 hill climbs as a reference. I was now able to maintain 147-148bpm. Whenever I stopped this “technique” I would instantly raise my bpm.

I learned this technique of controlled breathing soon after my heart attack. I got terrible panic attacks and would “freak out” that I was going to have another one. I started listening to Jon Kabat Zinn’s cd made with Dr. Andrew Weil,  Meditation for Optimum Health. Also through Pranayama yoga classes where breath awareness is a major component of your practice.

I really started to utilize Mindfulness Meditation when I first started riding again after my heart attacks. I was terrified to go too far, to hard, too fast etc…so I decided to use what I had been listening to at home and what I was earning in yoga while pedaling. It seems like such and obvious think now but I still forget about it. But, when I see a hill coming up or my heart starts to get a little out of range for my liking I try these techniques and they work for me.

Reiki heals the heart of pro cyclist Hayden Roulston back to racing & the Tour of California.

 Now, I watch the races on tv  and read a few cycling blogs and mags but do not follow the peloton religiously so I was unaware of Hayden Roulsten and his condition. After watching stage 7 of the Tour of California and hearing that Hayden Roulston (Cervelo Test Team ) had come back after being told to stop racing due to a heart problem I had to find out what his condition was and how he made it back to the peloton? From what I could find Hayden was found to have a rare heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia,  affecting the muscle of the right ventricle which can cause sudden death. Roulston was suffering shortness of breath and an irregular heart beat. 

Hayden had a random life altering meeting with a lady in a cafe who turned him to the practice of reiki, a Japanese hands-on healing process, and Roulston is now a devout follower, convinced it saved his career. “When I first tried it, I trained the next day and felt something different.” says Hayden. Having ignored doctors request he pursed the rieki treatment and last March took 4th in the individual pursuit at the world championships in Manchester and a double medal winner at the Beijing Olympics. Along with his change in diet and lifestyle Hayden believes that rieki was real key to his commback “Reiki is the the be-all and end-all for me … it’s pretty amazing stuff.” he told the New Zealand Sunday Star Times. Some bloggers I have found have been skeptical of the rieki and credit his comeback due to his cleaner living. Either way why not try all of the options at your disposal.

I know that from first hand experience with rieki, healing hands, meditation and other unknown techniques to me  I would not have been nearly as successful in my abilities after my own heart attacks without the attention to the mind and body connection that I received at various times.* Side note: I plan on writing more about my experiences with mind body healing soon.

Congratulation Hayden on your success at the Amgen Tour of California and for the inspiration I get from your unwillingness to let the medical community dictate your lifestyle and medical options.

hayden_1hayden2hayden3

Photos L-R; Cervelo Test Team,  Cycling News.com, nzherald.co.nz/

To read more about Hayden view these links;

Two years ago Hayden Roulston was a dead man riding.

Roulston wins battle of heart and mind.

New Zealand channel 3 News

3news.co.nz video interview

The Reiki Digest story on Hayden.

Ask a Cardiac/Heart Related Cycling Question.

I have tried a forum format for this site before but people seemed to be hesitant to want to sign up and go through the hassle of it all. I would love to have anyone who stops by this site be able  ask a question, talk about thier issues, ask drug questions, anything realted to your heart and riding (or exercise) is fair game. No doubt someone out there has a had a similar issue or question….So fire away