Replying to discussion about Exercise and ASD (question posted by Michael Thorburn)

Hi Michael

For some reason I was unable to post a reply to your comment, so unfortunately I had to start a new discussion.....

Anyway, I am 43 years old, two years ago I was diagnosed with multiple ASDs - my wall was riddled with them and as such I required immediate Open heart-surgery to replace my atrial wall. I was a competitive triathlete and runner and the thought of having OHS was devastating to me. I wanted to have the cath procedure but my defects were too complex for that method and OHS was my only option. I didn't suffer from chest pain, palpitations nor shortness of breath that I was really aware of, heck, I'd lived with this all my life so just thought it was normal. Post surgery I was determined to get back into training and racing as soon as possible. Recovery for me was quite fast and I was able to compete in an Ironman Triathlon just 8 months post surgery. I also wrote a book about my journey ( and joined a cardiac endurance training group ( . There are many people who are out there who are very fit individuals but who have cardiac problems.

Please send me a message if you would like to connect personally.

Good luck


oh, Ellen, that is such a positive story and just what I was looking for. I was going to refer Michael to the blog on here about Corrine Ellison which I found on here and was just so encouraging to me who, like you, is a keen athlete and is concerned about how open heart surgery (that's what I need - my hole too close to the aorta) might affect my active life afterwards, and how long recovery would be, and, basically, how long it might be before I could swim, run, cycle, play rugby again! I found Corrine's story amazing. I shall now be looking up yours - ironman 8 months after open heart surgery - incredible! Good for you!
I couldn't reply directly to Michael's post either - so I'm hoping he find our replies here and finds some comfort from it. A bit like him, for a while I thought my symptoms may have been anxiety related (even though I didn't feel anxious about anything), and so, like him, to know the problem could be fixed was sort of a relief. Have to admit though, open heart surgery scares me! I just did a 5km open water swim this morning - but I'm looking forward to finding exercise even easier once my heart works properly! ;o)

Hope you find these posts, Michael, and get some encouragement from them!


Hi Emma, thanks for your note, Yes do please check out my story and also the Ironheart team.....we started with just 7 members and now we are over 250 members strong crossing 30's amazing to know that there are many of us out there looking to still do amazing things with our defected hearts.

Also, to take it one stage further I am doing another Ironman this November with 7 other cardiac patients and we are filming a documentary movie about the entire year. If you really want inspiration then check out our website and trailer it is sure inspire you. Please also join Ironheart - we'd love to have you (and anyone keen to help inspire others through sport, however long or short) !!

Take care and please reach out to me if you have questions, delighted to help.


Hi Ellen and Emma, don't know what was happening on my post it doesn't let me reply either! I've not been able to do anything since my episode in hospital so literally can't wait to get back to exercise. I'm still waiting for a cardiologist to get back to me and don't even know if the plan is for an operation but I'm hoping to hear from them on Monday. It's been a total nightmare.

Ellen you're story is totally inspirational and its great to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!