Q+A with Ilan Kedan, MD, cardiologist, extreme unicyclist
A. Cardiology makes the most sense to me. There’s a strong mechanical angle to it—it focuses on an organ that functions a lot like a pump, with its own intricate plumbing and wiring. It’s also a very dynamic specialty: We can diagnose problems in any area of the heart and there’s usually a known treatment option.
Q. What is your favorite part of the job?
A. Hearing my patients’ stories, and understanding their perspective. Heart problems can develop abruptly or creep up over time, so to make the right diagnosis, it’s important to understand when the patient’s version of “normal” changed.
Q. You go to an extreme to keep your heart healthy—how did you discover unicycling?
A. I have always been an exercise enthusiast. I used to run 30 miles a week, but I had to stop because of injuries. So, four years ago, I started riding a unicycle. Bicycles are expensive and they don’t fit in your car. A unicycle seemed like a good challenge! On a unicycle, you have to train your brain and muscles to become more aware of a constantly changing center of gravity.
Q. Are there ways in which being a cardiologist is similar to being a unicyclist?
A. They both give me mental focus and toughness. If you’re about to ride down a very steep, technical, rocky stretch of trail, you can’t be thinking about anything else. The same goes for treating a patient—it requires your complete attention. Both take a lot of practice, commitment, and training.
Q. What’s more challenging: riding a unicycle or performing a pericardiocentesis (draining fluid from around the heart with a needle)?
A. They are both challenging in different ways, but I’d say, in terms of physical challenge, unicycling wins. Riding a unicycle is physically much harder than any cardiology procedure I’ve ever had to perform. You are using your entire body to maneuver a tiny wheel over a surface that can change suddenly and dramatically. To take a unicycle uphill and average nine miles an hour for 10 to 15 miles—that’s a great workout!