Your Health Tamar Raucher | one year ago

For Bruce, Being Active Is at the Heart of it All

When avid cyclist Bruce Randall came to his new doctor after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, his first question – after wondering if he was going to die – was just as serious: “Are you going to take my bike away?”

Bruce, a fit, single father with two sons, had been active all his life. But he was worried that his heart condition might put an end to the lifestyle of cycling, tennis, hiking and sports that he so loved. After a series of frightening episodes, Bruce had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – a twitching, unsteady heart rhythm commonly known as AFib – at 51. “The first time I felt it, I had no idea what was happening. My heart was fluttering and thumping all over the place,” says Bruce, who works in IT project management. “It felt like a little gnome was beating a drum inside my chest. And it scared the daylights out of me.” Initially, he was afraid for his life. “My biggest worry was if I’d be around to care for my boys,” says Bruce, whose wife had passed away from breast cancer years before. “After my doctor assured me I wasn’t going to die, my next thought was, will I be able to stay active?” His cardiologist, Rohit Mehta, MD, of Carolinas HealthCare System’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, had good news for him. “Bruce is a young and active guy, and he didn’t want his AFib to limit what he could do,” says Dr. Mehta, a cardiac electrophysiologist who’s overseen Bruce’s heart care for six years. “He wanted to keep cycling, and our goal was to make sure he didn’t have to stop.” After explaining all of his options, Dr. Mehta put Bruce on a pair of medications to regulate his heart rate and keep blood clots at bay. And Bruce, who also keeps his condition in check with a healthy diet, got right back on the road. Bruce, who often goes cycling in the country for 30 or 40 miles at a time, relishes the feeling he gets on a ride. “I love hearing and seeing everything, I love the open space,” he says. “And I love the burn.” Now 58, the active dad says it’s a joy to be able to keep up the lifestyle that he loves. “I still do everything I did before - I probably do more,” laughs Bruce, who says he’s in better shape now than before his heart issues began. “It hasn’t slowed me down one bit.”   A healthy heart lets you stay focused on doing what you love. What’s at the heart of it all for YOU? Join the conversation and get more heart-health tips here.