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The Haywire Heart

How too much exercise can kill you, and what you can do to protect your heart

Published by VeloPress
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Too much exercise can kill you. The Haywire Heart is the first book to examine heart conditions in athletes. Intended for anyone who competes in endurance sports like cycling, triathlon, running races of all distances, and cross-country skiing, The Haywire Heart presents the evidence that going too hard or too long can damage your heart forever. You’ll find what to watch out for, what to do about it, and how to protect your heart so you can enjoy the sports you love for years to come.

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 warning signs, 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. He reviews new research about exercise intensity and duration, recovery, inflammation and calcification, and the ways athletes inflict lasting harm.

These heart problems are appearing with alarming frequency among masters athletes who are pushing their bodies harder than ever in the hope that exercise will keep them healthy and strong into their senior years. The book is complete with gripping case studies of elite and age-group athletes from journalist Chris Caselike the scary condition that nearly killed cyclist and coauthor Lennard Zinnand includes a frank discussion of exercise addiction and the mental habits that prevent athletes from seeking medical help when they need it.

Dr. Mandrola explains why many doctors misdiagnose heart conditions in athletes and offers an invaluable guide on how to talk with your doctor about your condition and its proven treatments. He covers known heart irritants, training and rest modifications, effective medicines, and safe supplements that can reduce the likelihood of heart damage from exercise.

Heart conditions affect hardcore athletes as well as those who take up sports seeking better health and weight loss. The Haywire Heart is a groundbreaking and critically important guide to heart care for athletes. By protecting your heart now and watching for the warning signs, you can avoid crippling heart conditions and continue to exercise and compete for years to come.

About The Authors

Chris Case is the managing editor of VeloNews, and author of “Cycling to Extremes,” the groundbreaking VeloNews story that brought the problem of the athlete’s heart to widespread attention. He is a graduate of Colgate University and holds a B.S. in Neuroscience and also Art and Art History.

Case worked at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, conducting research on patients with schizophrenia in one of the world's largest multidisciplinary studies of the devastating disease. After moving to Colorado and conducting studies on stem-cell treatments of Parkinson’s disease at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, he made a drastic switch, enrolling in the graduate journalism program at the University of Texas at Austin, with a concentration in documentary photography. It was in Austin that he rediscovered his love of cycling, becoming a member of the university’s elite team and competing in multiple national collegiate championship races. He was the conference cyclocross champion in 2006, in his first year racing that discipline.

After receiving his master’s degree, he worked as a freelance newspaper photographer in the Denver metropolitan area. He then served as the first creative director for the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum from 2006 to 2008. Simultaneously, he shifted into the role of editor and director of photography and design of Trail & Timberline, the magazine published by the Colorado Mountain Club since 1918. As a photographer and writer, he worked for newspapers, national magazines, and national conservation organizations, and co-authored 100 Years Up High: Colorado Mountains and Mountaineers. In 2012, he joined the staff of VeloNews as the managing editor. That year he also earned silver medals at the U.S. national cyclocross championships and master’s world championships.

Dr. John Mandrola is a cardiac electrophysiologist and an active cyclist with atrial fibrillation. He works in a private cardiology practice where he specializes in heart rhythm disorders. He is Chief Cardiology Correspondent for Medscape, the leading online resource for physicians and healthcare professionals who seek medical news and expert perspectives. He is a also a regular columnist for and VeloNews magazine. He completed his medical training in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Electrophysiology at Indiana University. His wife is a hospice and palliative care specialist and together they have two children and a grandchild. In his free time, Mandrola was a criterium racer who retired to running after suffering two concussions during bike races.

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 the world’s best-selling guide to bicycle maintenance and repair. Zinn has a degree in physics and has built custom bicycles for over 30 years.

Product Details

  • Publisher: VeloPress (April 4, 2018)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781937716875

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Raves and Reviews

"A great resource to learn about warning signs, treatment options, and so on.”

– Runner’s World magazine

“A must-read for any dedicated athleteit examines the symptoms to watch for, what to do about your risks, and how to protect your heart so you can (safely) enjoy sports for the rest of your life.”

– Triathlete magazine

“In the long term, warn the American authors of a new book, extreme exercisers could be setting themselves up for serious consequences.”

– The Times

The Haywire Heart does give one reason to pause and consider…Anyone who does intense or long endurance training, especially over many years, should read this book.”


“Zinn and fellow authors Chris Case and John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist and cyclist with atrial fibrillation, do a good job of looking at all the angles.”

– Canadian Cycling magazine

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