I am
After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it.

Boyd’s heart story

In 2017, Boyd, now 64, stopped in his tracks while jogging, feeling breathless and fatigued. It was unusual because he was used to covering several kilometres at a time, but he shrugged it off and put off going to the doctor. Now he wants to raise awareness about atrial fibrillation, which is an abnormal heart rhythm.

"When I was running I suddenly felt out of breath, even though I’d only gone a couple of hundred metres. I usually run for kilometres with no issues.

When your heart is racing like that, you’re out of breath and suddenly feeling really fatigued – well, it’s like nothing else that I’d experienced before, you know something isn’t right.

I put off going to the doctor for a long time. I did end up seeing my GP who sent me for an ECG and then an echocardiogram. That didn’t show any abnormalities and then my symptoms just stopped. But seven months later it came back. I could feel my heart racing and sometimes I felt dizzy. I went to accident and emergency and they diagnosed atrial fibrillation. They said “Boyd, you’re in atrial fibrillation right now.”

I was put on medication to treat the abnormal heart rhythm, but I couldn’t tolerate it. I had some anxiety and depression and thankfully I was offered a cardiac ablation. In hospital they insert a catheter into your vein to get to the part of the heart that’s causing the problem and they zap it and burn it. The ablation was done in May 2018 and has been a complete success. I feel blessed.
Atrial fibrillation affected my whole outlook on life. Exercise has always been such an important part of my life and I was robbed of being able to do that.
I think anyone of any age, if they experience symptoms that are at odds with how they usually feel, they should see their doctor. I could get an attack just sitting at the computer or doing the dishes. 

I’ve been riding my bike for a while now – I usually ride for about three and a half hours – but I wanted to get back to my first love, running. Running has never been a chore for me.

I was worried about running again, but I finally bit the bullet. I talked to my doctor about it a few times and he said sure, just start running. It was uncomfortable for four or five weeks and there has been some muscle soreness, but no breathlessness. It has been a gradual process. I’m doing about two hours now, twice a week.

I consider myself reasonably well educated, but I knew nothing about atrial fibrillation before I was diagnosed with it. I’ve done a great deal of reading since then, but I suspect there are thousands of people who don’t realise they have atrial fibrillation, or they don’t understand the condition very well.

I’ve read that the numbers of people living with atrial fibrillation is increasing in Australia. I hate to think there are people who are going through what I went through. It’s critical that the condition is diagnosed and treated early, in order to prevent serious complications like having a stroke.  

I think sometimes people ignore symptoms and put off going to the doctor because they’re worried it might be something serious – I know I did – but it’s best to get checked out.

High blood pressure is one of the biggest causes of atrial fibrillation, but most people don’t know it. Smoking and drinking are part of it. I was carrying a bit of excess weight – not a lot, about 15 extra kilos – but I don’t drink much or smoke.   

Getting older increases your risk or getting it and I think that having a family member who has atrial fibrillation increases your chance of getting it. We have an ageing population; we have an obesity epidemic and people aren’t doing enough exercise.

A lot of men are reluctant to admit something is wrong because they see it as a sign of weakness, or they’re worried that they’ll find out that something is seriously wrong. When you’re young you think you’re bullet-proof, but things catch up with you when you get older.

There are a lot of reasons why we should improve our lifestyle, this is just one more reason to do it. It can be as simple as someone saying to their partner, ‘maybe we can do some exercise together."

Boyd’s one piece of advice

If you have these symptoms, don’t mess around, go straight to the emergency department at a major hospital.


Discover more heart stories

You might also be interested in

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Exercising for heart and soul

Alicia Philipatos was three days old when her heart condition was diagnosed...

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

I’d always thought of myself as fairly fit; I swam a lot, and did ‘soft running’, a combination of running and walking. ...

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

David reflects on how his life changed when he had a heart attack at 35 and how he got back on track....

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

At first, it didn’t cross my mind it could be something serious. ...

My role as a cardiac nurse

My role as a cardiac nurse

My role as a cardiac nurse

Michelle shares her experiences working as a cardiac nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital....

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

Fish and seafood is one of the most beneficial sources of omega 3. Incorporating more of it into your eating pattern can significantly lower your chances of heart disease and stroke. ...

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Learn about the common tests your doctor may want you to have to diagnose your heart condition....

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

Pumpkin falafel wraps

10 minutes
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

The game is “hide and seek”. You play it without even realising. The shock is that when you play this game, you could be placing your heart health at risk....

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Making philanthropic investments through the Heart Foundation can transform Australians’ health. ...

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Q&A with Dr Eleanor Quested

Q&A with Dr Eleanor Quested

Q&A with Dr Eleanor Quested

Harnessing the appeal of professional sport to improve health for men with cardiovascular disease...

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants aim to generate innovative and collaborative research in the areas of identified knowledge gaps or those deemed to be priorities of the Heart Foundation. ...

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

National tobacco strategy

National tobacco strategy

Frameworks supporting tobacco control in Australia ...

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

Emotional wellbeing is like having a garden, sometimes it grows green on its own, other times it needs watering, cutting back or fertilising....

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Having a mental health condition can have a negative impact on your heart health and increase your risk of heart disease....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

Information and FAQs about COVID-19 and heart disease....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

Breakfast bean and mushroom pizza

20 minutes
Serves 2