I am
Show me:
Show me:
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

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

At the heart of Mother’s Day

Three people living with heart disease share how their Mums helped them face their health challenges....

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

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

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

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. ...

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Dan was six minutes into his treadmill session when his heart stopped beating....

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David's heart failure diagnosis led to significant changes in his life....

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since. ...

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...

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart story

Gary's heart attack came without warning....

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....

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

It wasn’t until Helen's second heart attack that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet....

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....

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

I’m a mum and I survived a heart attack

Nicola, mum of 2, shares her heart attack recovery story....

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Help others in need through a gift in your Will

Ian “did not hesitate” to leave 100% of his estate to the Heart Foundation....

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....

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass....

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Learning that heart disease can strike at any age

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Living life on my terms as a young adult with heart disease

Lea was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 24. She shares her story of recovery....

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Today, Cupid is busy slinging arrows. Perhaps, you are frantic buying flowers or chocolates, booking dinner or penning a pitter-patter inducing poem....

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life...

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....

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm didn’t worry too much about his cholesterol problem – until an angiogram revealed he had an 80 per cent blockage in a major heart artery. ...

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter has lived with a rare heart condition since he was 14, but hadn’t given it too much thought until his 30s....

Peter's heart story

Peter's heart story

Peter's heart story

After his heart attack Peter felt incredibly demoralised....

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy, Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack. However, after experiencing a ‘widow maker’, she counts herself lucky....

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Three young people living with heart disease share how they are dealing with COVID-19

Rachel, Angela and Lea are all young and living with heart conditions. ...

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Savannah and Gerry, two Australians living with heart disease share their COVID-19 stories....

Warren's heart story

Warren's heart story

Warren's heart story

Warren suffered a heart attack while on a skiing holiday in Thredbo....

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's stories from around Australia...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Try our Heart Age Calculator to understand what contributes to your risk of heart disease....

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Men’s Health Week is the perfect time to think about your heart....

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Training to support identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, in line with standard practice....

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Advice from young people living with a heart condition....

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

There are many medicines that treat heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart conditions....

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....

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts provide a visual tool to calculate CVD risk for use in practice in Australia....

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

A quick guide to the evidence behind the Heart Foundation’s new dietary guidelines....

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Media Release - 26 June 2020...

National tobacco strategy

National tobacco strategy

Frameworks supporting tobacco control in Australia ...

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

The prevalence of depression is high in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD)....

The NSW Cardiac Rehabilitation Working Group

The NSW Cardiac Rehabilitation Working Group

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW

A ground-breaking collaboration bringing together for the first time the state’s most eminent cardiovascular researchers...

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Discover more about our various funding programs, requirements, and application dates now....

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be....

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

My Heart, My Life Mobile App

My Heart, My Life Mobile App

A mobile app to help you manage your heart health....

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...