Atrial Fibrilation & hill walking

Is there anyone on this site who has the above condition? It’s a heart condition where the pulse goes very irregular & can leave you very tired.

It has started several times with me when I’ve got to a summit, eaten, activated & then set off again but feeling quite weak & wobbly.

For example, I activated Moel Siabod GW/NW-010 last Thursday, had lunch & the AFib kicked in making the descent a bit slower than the ascent & needing several stops & lie downs.

Perhaps I need to change what & when I eat. I am also on an anti-coagulent drug.

I should be grateful to hear from anyone who has this condition & how they cope with it especially with regard to walking & exercise generally. 73 John G0MHF.


I would suggest you go immediately to your doctor or specialist and get their advice. This group of miscellaneous radio hams is not competent to advise. Anything to do with the heart is potentially life threatening.

No entertaining stories based on personal experience of others with AF is any use to you.


73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA
A survivor of various heart issues and a triple bypass 5 years ago


This. A million zillion times, this!


Andrew is right, speaking as a sufferer myself whose Attrial Fibrillation turned into heart failure a year after the AF was diagnosed.

I still hill walk, but I cannot achieve what I did before the AF/HF came from nowhere. I take five heart drugs each day now for the last two years, my heartbeat ranges now from 62-140 when hillwalking, I have a CRT-D pacemaker, fitted Feb 2021. Once it settled it helped improve the blood flow out of my heart. All this happened since I struggled on a walk in Wales in Sept 2018 when I activated GW/NW-016 and GW/NW-025 when something was very wrong that day with my heart. I had to stop every 100m or so throughout any ascent on the walk for breath and to get some strength into my arms and legs. It had never happened before, age then 65. I didn’t see a doctor, but 3 months later I went into hospital for a biopsy checking for prostate cancer and they discovered the AF then and put me on a blood thinner drug. My fitness was fine then for almost a year until I became very ill. October 2019 - when I couldn’t walk further than a half mile without discomfort and a tight chest. Then I received advice from a heart surgeon via my GP and was prescribed various drugs, then the pacemaker to finish off - 18 months after I was seriously ill.

My condition (like others on here who have suffered heart attacks, which I haven’t) hasn’t stopped me enjoying the outdoors and SOTA activating, but every case is different. Start by seeing your GP ASAP.

73 Phil G4OBK


I had a heart attack 2019, a “widow maker”. was told its usually a 12% survival rate. Very lucky as I was 20 miles away from an ER, i didnt feel bad and still don’t know why i called an ambulance. The 2 ambulance ladies saved me. 2 stents and now a pacemaker/defib implanted. I was also told I have afib and apparently have had it for a long long time but symptoms are mild but never gone completely. I a on lots of blood thinners etc. I still walk and camp but not too much mountain trails, just mostly portable. Just take it slow and stop when needed, its about all i can do. Keep all DR appointments!


Another cardiac survivor here to support Andrew’s advice!! We can tell you our experiences - but that is to show why you NEED to see a cardiologist.

Howard KE6MAK
100% occlusion of right cardiac artery, went into arrest, brought back and blockage cleared; 17 years ago.


My experience with these symptoms were a lot like yours with the giddy spell half way to a summit after a period of extreme exertion on part of the climb. I took my back pack off and a friend who was with me carried it for me and I struggled to the summit with no extra weight. My complaint is Bradycardia the one where the heart slows down not speed up. I often had the same experiences of heart rate slowing when cycling it would not elevate to help me make watts per kilo or elevate my FTP. All I could do is stop cycling for a while and wait until it got going again. Lucky so far !! .
But like Andrew says first opportunity get to your GP and get some help. I now have a pace maker that sets my pulse at 55 bpm and helps me up to 120 bpm and I can elevate out to 140 bpm again on my bike and hike SOTA better than ever. The other thing I did to keep cycling was get an Ebike which helps me in the physical sense to keep cycling and It has really improved my Aerobic fitness a lot. With E bikes the more you peddle the more the motor helps you and now my SOTA hikes are probably easier for me than when I first started 10 years ago. I am 70 this year and still doing the things I want in life before I run out of time. I had a 42 bpm resting pulse rate thinking I was a gun athlete but it was not the case in my experience.
Take care
vk5cz …


How about detecting your condition in 30 seconds and emailing it to your doctor on the spot. All you need is a cell phone and one of these:

Elliott, K6EL

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Anybody suffering in this way on a climb to anywhere should immediately sit down and rest, take a drink and something sweet (diabetics will know what to do in their own case). Then, turn around and go back to where you started - you DON’T keep going: that’s asking for trouble. If it happens again on another day, or you feel too bad anyway, go to the doctor. Of course, if it’s so bad you can’t make it down again, call for help.

Part of my 20-odd years of “training” in mountaineering, rock-climbing and backpacking was to accept that turning around and going back down - for ANY reason at all, be it tiredness, or breathlessness (me when it’s very humid!), or a general feeling that you’re just not up to it on the day - is the most sensible solution, and carries NO penalties or shame. The mountain, and the chasers, will still be there tomorrow…

Cheers, Rob


Totally agree.


Before I had my heart attack, I did not eat before ascending hills in order to avoid problems with aching in my leg muscles and also prevent indigestion. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that these issues were due to the limited blood flow (blockage undiagnosed) to both my muscles and stomach. Since I have been “fixed” by stents in 2017 (RCA 100% blocked by a blood clot) and a triple bypass in 2018 (including the bypass of the stented artery), these problems have gone away.

I have never suffered from AF, but my brother has the condition and takes an anti-coagulant for it. From what I know, I would certainly echo what others have said and suggest that you discuss the issues you are having with your GP. You will certainly not be wasting their time.

73, Gerald.


Thanks for all your helpful comments & concern, everyone.
I will contact my surgery for a chat, (as far as you can these days with e-consultations, but that’s another story…)
Possibly eating low bulk high energy food, perhaps little & often may be the way to go, but we’ll see. If I get advice that might be of use to others, I’ll pass it on.
73s & thanks again, John


I can only reiterate what others have said and get professional advice.
I have long Covid and struggle with an increased heart rate and exhaustion so hill walking, although possible, takes a long time.
Take care…


I love these gadgets. If they help to find more healthy life style they are worth of the money, I think. Can not give any medical advice though.

73, Jaakko ac1bb/oh7bf

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Worth pointing out that newer Garmin Sports Watches have an Abnormal Heart Rate alert, where the watch buzzes and vibrates when it detects something out of the ordinary. I have a 3 year old Garmin Instinct, my low alert is 40 BPM & upper 100 BPM. Occasionally I get “High Abnormal Heart Rate” after an really tough activity where my heartrate is not recovering as quickly as it should. Its turned off during the activity I presume, but included to alert you at other times.

Some people may dismiss these devices as pointless toys! But with this and things like Average Resting Heartrate, GPS location fix, your track Breadcrumb, Live Track (where your in mobile coverage) and even incident detection they are pretty useful. I know the incident detection works, my XYL went over her ankle running last month and it generated an incident and sent me text messages! She was ok and continued running after a few minutes, but very clever tech!

I have a good resting BPM for a mid 50’s diabetic, glad its not VK5CZ’s 42!! Scary…

73 Gavin


Also available in the UK and possibly from the NHS

or if you want to buy it,

My only experience of this is in a health and safety traing session where the solution was for me to admininster shock.

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Hi John,

When you talk to your GP ask if you could be referred to a cardiologist who specualises in electrophysiology. They deal with arrhythmias and might be able to advise on some treatment. Any major heart centre will have someone who specialises.




Thanks Colwyn!

I discovered this past year that I have AFib. Probably had it for years but never showed up during prior testing! My doctor has me on a blood thinner and a heart beat regulator. The first to prevent strokes and the second to help my heart regulate the pace of the beats. My watch will identify when I am having an AFib episode and when it does I sit down, have a nice drink of cool water and relax for a bit. My doctor assures me that with the medications I am on I have a low risk of negative consequences. The best advice has already been given. Go back to your doctor and tell him about your AFib episodes and your hill walking/SOTA activities. Then follow the doctor’s advice! There are several treatments for AFib and you may need something different than what you are currently prescribed to enjoy a healthy long life.