Accustomed to drinking ice water after exercise, this bodybuilder was close to death for years

Accustomed to drinking ice water after exercise, this bodybuilder was close to death for years

A Texas bodybuilder was hospitalized more than a dozen times after drinking a glass of ice water after his workout. The vagus nerve, which controls heart rate, is believed to be involved. Explanations from Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens.

If your mother or grandmother recommended that you not drink ice water right after exercise, she was probably right. Franklin Aribeana, a 35-year-old American bodybuilder, suffered numerous illnesses and was hospitalized a dozen times before he understood what was happening to him.

A glass of ice water causes heart rhythm disturbances

The athlete used to drink ice water to cool down after an intense training session. After that, he felt palpitations and was regularly unwell.

After around twenty hospital visits, the doctors were finally able to understand. On the one hand, genetic testing revealed that Franklin Aribeana, his sister and his father had a genetic mutation that could trigger atrial fibrillation. This heart rhythm disorder (irregular and often very rapid frequency) can cause palpitations, chest pain, fatigue… In the long term, it exposes you to more heart failure or the formation of blood clots and therefore stroke or myocardial infarction.

According to doctors, this rhythm disturbance was caused by the cold water which, upon reaching the back of his throat, would strain the “vagus nerve”, one of the 12 cranial nerves in the body. This nerve controls many involuntary functions of the body, including heart rate and breathing. Its stimulation due to the ice water would have caused it to send irregular signals to the heart, causing atrial fibrillation.

The first time this happened to him, he was 18 and playing golf, he recalls in Daily mail. He finally underwent surgery to interrupt the connection between the nerve and the heart and thus make his discomfort disappear.

The vagus nerve, responsible for slowing down the heart

Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens, confirms the important role of the vagus nerve. “It is the tenth cranial pair which starts from the brain to descend behind the carotids and reach the heart. Its role is to slow it down, by causing bradycardia, when it becomes active. the doctor explains first.

To explain this clinical case, our expert specifies that the contradiction of messages sent to the heart is involved: “When we play sports, the heart rate increases and drinking very cold water will activate the vagus nerve which will slow it down, which causes discomfort and can lead to heart problems, such as atrial fibrillation.

Do not drink ice water after exercise

After exercise, Dr Gérald Kierzek therefore recommends not drinking iced water. “It is better to quench your thirst with water at room temperature and also avoid massaging your neck and les carotides. Indeed, this gesture can also result in stimulation of the vagus nerve and also cause discomfort, through its hyperstimulation.

More information on this case can be found in this ABC News report.