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New book, The Haywire Heart, says too much exercise can kill you

The Haywire Heart by Lennard Zinn, Dr. John Mandrola, and Chris Case

According to new book, The Haywire Heart, too much exercise can kill you. A release from the book publisher, VeloPress, notes that ‘Despite their lean looks and healthy glow, many athletes in their 40s, 50s and 60s are damaging their hearts by repeatedly pushing to extremes… Training hard for top performance can cause abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias, and these heart conditions can be deadly. Moreover, they are being diagnosed in an alarming number of athletes.’

The Haywire Heart is billed as a ground-breaking examination of heart conditions in athletes. Intended for anyone over the age of 30 who competes in endurance sports such as bike races, triathlons, running events and ultrarunning, and cross-country skiing, The Haywire Heart ‘presents new evidence that going too hard or too long can damage your heart forever’.

Authors Chris Case, John Mandrola, MD, and Lennard Zinn show athletes what to watch for and how to protect their hearts so they can enjoy the sports they love for the rest of their lives. The Haywire Heart is now available in bookstores; in bike, tri, running, and cross-country ski stores; and online. Athletes can learn more, see the warning signs, take an exercise addiction quiz, and read several online excerpts at velopress.com/haywire.

The VeloPress release for The Haywire Heart continues…

Older athletes are pushing their bodies harder than ever in the hope that exercise will keep them healthy and strong into their later years. But, The Haywire Heart is the first book to examine the latest findings and reveal a paradoxical truth: too much exercise, especially at a high and sustained level, can damage your heart irreparably, and sometimes fatally.

The Haywire Heart shares the developing research into a group of conditions known as ‘athlete’s heart’, starting with a wide-ranging look at the symptoms and how to recognize your potential risk. Leading cardiac electrophysiologist and masters athlete Dr John Mandrola explores the prevention and treatment of heart conditions in athletes like arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation and flutter, tachycardia, hypertrophy, and coronary artery disease.

Case studies present vivid illustrations of the range of conditions facing athletes. A frank discussion of exercise addiction and comprehensive advice on how to talk with your doctor about your condition preface an encouraging review of the treatment options. Athletes will learn about heart irritants, training and rest modifications, effective medications, and safe supplements that can reduce the likelihood of heart damage during exercise.

The Haywire Heart is positioned as a critically important guide to heart care for athletes. ‘By protecting their hearts now and watching for the warning signs, athletes can avoid crippling heart conditions and continue to exercise and compete for years to come’.

The Haywire Heart: How too much exercise can kill you, and what you can do to protect your heart
Authors: Chris Case, Dr John Mandrola, and Lennard Zinn
Hardcover with jacket. Colour interior with illustrations. | 6″ x 9″, 320 pp., US$24.95, 9781937715670

Chris Case is the Managing Editor of VeloNews, and author of ‘Cycling to Extremes’, the VeloNews story that brought the problem of the athlete’s heart to widespread attention. Case holds a BSc in Neuroscience and has conducted research at the National Institute of Mental Health. He is a former state champion runner and has medalled at the US national cyclocross championships and master’s world championships.

John Mandrola, MD, is a cardiac electrophysiologist and an active cyclist who had atrial fibrillation. He works in a private cardiology practice where he specializes in heart rhythm disorders. He is Chief Cardiology Correspondent for Medscape, a leading online resource for physicians and healthcare professionals who seek medical news and expert perspectives. He is also a regular columnist for theHeart.org and VeloNews magazine.

Lennard Zinn was a member of the US national cycling team and is a lifelong endurance athlete. He has reported on major stories for VeloNews for 30 years and is the author of a best-selling guide to bicycle maintenance and repair. Zinn has a degree in physics and has built custom bicycles for over 30 years.

VeloPress is a leading publisher of books about endurance sports. Focused on cycling, triathlon, running and swimming, VeloPress books ‘help committed athletes achieve their goals of going faster and farther’. VeloPress authors are top experts in their fields and the publisher’s range of illustrated books aim to help athletes develop the knowledge, fitness and skills to meet any challenge.




  1. I have been VERY active my entire life.
    Played ice hockey and lacrosse, mobile positions, wing and crease attack and middy respectively from age 8 to 18.
    I always have been a very avid bodysurfer. I consider myself extreme in this regard, at it 9 out of 12 months, bodysurfing big hurricane surf sometimes up to 8-10 feet, when such surf occurs here on Long Island.
    This is MAJOR aerobic activity, maybe more so than Tri.
    I competed in triathlons for 20 years winning my age group in Clydesdale division in every race I entered except one second place finish. In races not offering a Clydesdale division I would finish in top 5th of my age group. I would guess I completed about 60- 75 sprint length tris with never a DNF.
    I mention this to convey that I was a competitive Triathlete, not merely a event T-shirt collector type participant or a once or twice participant.
    I was a competitive runner for over 36 years, 6 days a week year round with almost no running injuries and therefore almost no time off.
    Most months, year round I competed in at least 2 events bike races, ocean swims, runs.
    Some months I would race three weekends out off the four.
    About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with atrial flutters and underwent a cardio conversion.
    This was around the time of major life stress.
    This was followed up with a atrial flutter ablation about 4 years ago and a atrial fibrillation ablation 3 weeks ago.
    I stopped competing in running races and Tris about 5 years ago due to other health issues, prostate cancer and other surgeries but I’m still active cycling, swimming and bodysurfing.
    Just finished the Haywire Heart.
    The HH is revelatory, dispelling many ideas.
    Read this fantastic book even if you are not a sufferer of these heart issues if only as a guide to your activity level.
    Dr. Mandrola explains, in his clear and concise style, complex issues of cardiac and exercise physiology.
    Perhaps the main takeaway is the explanation that, to your doctor, you are probably a seldom seen anomaly with an activity level they very rarely see and often misunderstand.
    Dr. Mandrola cites example of Cardiologists and Electrophysiologists failing to interpret data and test results correctly due to biases and lack of specific experience with our rarer test results.
    The case studies of athletes including that of Ironman god Dave Scott are a wealth of information.
    Everyone who seriously competes in any endurance sport, especially Tri, will benefit immensely from reading this book.
    The correlation between stress as result of competing and training and other life stress is eye opening.
    Kudos to Dr. Mandrola!
    You have filled a giant void with your effort.

    Have fun out there but be forewarned!


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