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Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Male, 47, high heart rate when exercising


 triads4 - Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:55 pm

I'm a 47 year old male, 5'9, 165 lbs. I mountain bike several times weekly and monitor my heart rate with a re
liable heart rate monitor. I've been riding regularly for over a year. After I've warmed up - approximately 15 minutes of easy riding on pavement to the trail head - my heart rate is in the 130s (beats per minutes). However, once I begin riding in the mountains on a slight incline, my rate increases to and stays in the 150s. At this level, I experience no breathlessness or chest pains and can easily hold a conversation. During technical ascents and descents, I regularly will hold a heart rate in the 180s to 190s for up to 15 minutes. During these periods, I do not experience chest pain but become breathless. My concerns: a) Why hasn't my heart rate slowed as my fitness level has improved?; b) Is holding a heart rate in the 150s with peaks in the 190s for up to 1.5 hours hazardous for a 47 year old in reasonably good condition? I did have a nuclear stress test last year that was 'normal'. I have a family history of heart disease (father, living, bypass at 40, several stents and angioplasties / grandfather on father's side, fatal heart attack at 40 / father's brother, survived heart attack at 42). I have high cholesterol but have held it under 200 via statins for better than a decade.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:08 am

User avatar Hello -

It is difficult to quantify or compare your biking exertion with a stress test, in which all the parameters are controlled and follow a certain protocol, but it might be worthwhile, at the intensity of exercise you're working, to have a stress test done just for a baseline. In general it is wise to do so anyway before undertaking a rigorous exercise program. After a year, however, it would seem you are probably working at a normal output (for you) although a resting pre-exercise rate would be useful in assessing the effectiveness of your program (resting rate with this sort of program is usually on the slow side, between 40s and 60s as a rule). It is your resting rate that would slow significantly due to the exercise program, but rate should increase significantly during the sort of exercise you describe. Since you don't experience any chest pain and your shortness of breath only occurs at peak exercise you are probably not doing any damage, assuming you maintain proper hydration during. However, it would make sense to have a cardiac workup including stress test, to be certain you are actually fit to be doing this, even though the fact you are able to would seem to attest to that fitness. The fact is the exercise may be working for you but you still could have some degree of heart disease. Probably not, but it would be better to be certain, especially because of the family history and the level of intensity. I''m guessing a workup would probably show you to be in extraordinarily good condition, but it also would be prudent to know for sure.

Hope this is helpful. Best of luck to you.

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