Through the years, I've learned the importance of taking care of yourself through exercise. But, just because you are looking and feeling great doesn't mean you won't have complications or surprises lurking in the shadows.
With my road to Ironman Chattanooga 2014 traveling with Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts, I have made pit stops along the way enlightening me that heart disease and complications aren't just for those that are out of shape or don't treat their bodies right.
It hit home watching a recent ESPN 30 for 30 about Hank Gathers. He played college basketball and had a promising career in the NBA waiting for him, but a heart-muscle disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, eventually lead to his death.
His death might have been avoided had he not played at LMU with their run and gun style of fast break play. The practices were intense and the games were non-stop running. He initially passed out in a game from exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia, was prescribed medication that affected his athletic performance, speculated to have cut the dose to play better and then died during a game.
Could he have played with the medication and accepted a lesser athletic performance? Could he have played in medication and not been at risk for a sudden death? Should he have listened better to his doctors? Theirs a lot of sepculation around his death and lawsuits to go with them, but the moral of the story is that for anyone putting their bodies through intense physical work loads, like Ironman Triathletes, it's a wise move to stay on top of your heart health.
You may have underlying conditions that under normal circumstances may not effect your life, but riding and running for hours on end and training for 20 hours a week could cause exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia. The very training that may make you look and feel invincible may be killing you without you even knowing it.
Word to the wise, check with your doctor, get an EKG to at least have a baseline if nothing is detected. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make sure you know your body. Mine is scheduled this December. Get with the program. :)
Check out the 30 for 30 video. It's almost an hour, but very interesting.