Twenty cycling enthusiasts are gearing up to ride from Canberra to Melbourne to raise funds for urgent medical research and raise community awareness of what doctors have described as an “emerging epidemic” of irregular heartbeats.
The week-long Paceline ride, beginning on Saturday, 12 November, will cover a distance of 1,200km – the equivalent of 10 metres for each of the estimated 120,000 Australians living with an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia, a condition where the heart beats too quickly, too slowly or erratically.
“More than half-a-million Australians have an irregular heartbeat, but close to one-in-five are unaware they have the condition,” said Paceline founder Steve Quinn.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Mr Quinn, who was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in 2003 at the age of 35. “Thousands of other Australians remain unaware that they have a very serious heart condition which could prematurely end their life.”
Left undiagnosed or untreated, heart arrhythmias can cause serious and life-threatening complications. Atrial fibrillation, which is the most common arrhythmia in Australia, increases a sufferer’s risk of heart failure by up to three times; and risk of stroke by up to seven times.
“The good news is that if diagnosed early and managed well, it is possible to continue normal everyday life with minimal disruption,” said Mr Quinn.
“A simple pulse test can be the first step in detecting an irregular heartbeat and could help save thousands of lives. I would encourage all Australians to ask for their pulse to be checked next time they see their doctor,” he said.
Irregular heartbeats are becoming increasingly common in Australia, prompting the need for more medical research to be undertaken to overcome this significant health issue.
Through this year’s ride, Paceline aims to raise $100,000 to help fund medical research into the causes and treatment of irregular heartbeats at two of the country’s leading heart research institutes; the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney and Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
One area of particular interest is research into the trend towards younger people being affected by the condition at increasing rates.
“Many people have the misconception that arrhythmias are confined to the elderly, but I’m evidence that that is not the case,” said Paceline ambassador and former cycling champion, Will Walker.
Mr Walker was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia at the age of 23, cutting short his promising career as a professional cyclist.
“I had to give up my dream of professional cycling. It was a huge disappointment that my heart let me down; it was both a mental and physical battle. I couldn’t train well and eventually I was no longer able to perform at the elite level,” said Mr Walker.
“However, my condition is now manageable and I am still in a great position to enjoy cycling and taking on challenges such as the Paceline ride.
“We’ll be riding a third of the distance of the Tour de France over a period of eight days. While I won’t be riding in a pro tour again, it’s a tough ride and it feels good to be back doing what I love,” Mr Walker said.
The Paceline cyclists, four of whom suffer from irregular heartbeats, will spend eight days tackling gruelling peaks including Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.
The Paceline peloton will take the following route from Canberra to Melbourne:
- Saturday, 12 November: Canberra to Jindabyne;
- Sunday, 13 November: Jindabyne to Corryong;
- Monday, 14 November: Corryong to Mt Beauty;
- Tuesday, 15 November: Mt Beauty to Omeo;
- Wednesday, 16 November: Omeo to Milawa;
- Thursday, 17 November: Milawa to Mansfield;
- Friday, 18 November: Mansfield to Healesville;
- Saturday, 19 November: Healesville to Melbourne.
To support the cyclists in their efforts to raise $100,000 for medical research, visit the Paceline website (www.paceline.com.au)
and make a donation.
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