A bicycle saved my life!

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Monday, March 19, 2007
By Yokota Fritz

The author of "Free Money Finance" writes about how a bicycle saved his life. His wife left him, his dog died and his pickup truck broke down in a really bad part of town while country music still played from the 8-track when some really bad desperados came looking for their next random victim. He reached back to the gun rack, but his ex- took the gun in the settlement! All he had was the old bike in the bed of the truck. He grabbed the bike and escaped with his life!

No, not really. He had horrible cholesterol due to bad eating habits. Three years ago he started cycling. Since then, his cholesterol has dropped from 237 to 169.

Bicycling is heart healthy, and the risks of cycling are far outweighed by the health benefits. I am compelled to warn readers, however, that cycling is not a "eat everything you want free" magic pill. Marathon runner Jim Fixx, with his infamous horrible eating habits, died of a heart attack. Last year I went through a time where I ate eggs, hashbrowns and a breakfast meat almost every morning. I stopped that after a blood test revealed that my cholesterol shot through the roof in spite of my daily bicycling. I still enjoy my eggs occasionally, but usually it's oatmeal in the morning for me.

Physical exercise will allow you to consume a few more calories, but you should still watch what you eat, especially as you approach and pass middle age.

Found via Warren who posted the link to Commute By Bike.


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I got diagnosed with a heart problem 2 months ago. Mitral valve prolapse with left ventricle hypertrophy to be exact. The way I understand it: the left valve doesn't close properly so the ventrical has to work harder causing its wall to thicken.

I can't say for certain that my bike saved my life but my father had a fatal heart attack when he was only a few years older than my current 40 and mitral valve prolapse is thought to be hereditary. He drank, smoked, ate very poorly and never exercised. As my mother said "He worked pretty hard at having that heart attack."

I suspect I'd be much worse off without the bike. as it is I'm pretty asymptomatic, just some minor pains and the occasional arythmia despite a diet that wasn't exactly heart healthy.

So now I'm also watching my cholesterol and sodium and trying very hard not to feel too sorry over the sudden blandness of my diet. :)

Mind you, I wonder about the bike riding and if it's actually helping. If my left ventrical is working too hard shouldn't I work it less? This is on a long list of questions I have for the cardiologist whom I won't see until May. (Gotta love Canadian health care, sure it's free but the wait times are long.) For the time being I'm trying to keep my heart rate at 80% of max or below just in case.
Scary stuff, Ceolah. I'm not a physician and have no idea what I'm talking about and I'm sure you've probably read every Internet resource on mitral valve prolapse, but this page says, "Mitral valve prolapse is not at all the sort of "heart condition" that should make anyone apprehensive about engaging in exercise. In fact, exercise is one of the best therapies we have for deconditioning learned sensitivities and relieving neurological symptoms. Studies have shown that people who engage in regular aerobic exercise report a decline in symptoms of chest pain, fatigue, dizziness and mood swings, and panic attacks."
Thanks for that Fritz.

Actually I avoided the internet on this one. My first diagnosis was only for the Hypertrophy. Being the curious sort that I am, I dove into the internet and gave myself a real scare. Plenty of warnings like, "Increased risk of sudden fatal heart attack." I decided to wait until I had all my test results and had discussed them with someone who understood them before doing any further research. Credible medical establishments that put stuff on the web seem to emphasis the worst case, probably so they don't get sued. Or maybe so they can scare people into buying their services.

My GP did point out that the prolapse is common and not a huge cause for concern, but something has her worried enough to insist I start taking cholesterol lowering meds. She also threaten to put me on high blood pressure meds if I didn't clean up my act.
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