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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Heart beats harder when I hold my breath during swimming

 kinko - Sun Aug 15, 2004 3:08 pm

Whenever I hold my breath, all of the sudden, i can feel my heart beating harder, which is very uncomfortable, and I experience occasional palpitations. I am concerned, because I will be going swimming in a few days. I do not want to have anything go wrong while I am swimming. I am worried about swimming, because I will have to hold my breath while exercising my arms and legs. Will this actually be a strain on my heart, and is it safe for me to swim? I am not a strong swimmer, and I usually avoid the deep end of the pool. Also, occasionally at random times of the day, I feel a very light pain in my heart, which only lasts about 4 seconds. It is not a sharp pain,and it is not painful. It almost feels like someone lightly pinching my skin, but I am not that worried about that and I think it is completely unrelated. My heart is normal. I would just like some advice if there is any and I would like to know if it is safe for me to go swimming.
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:31 am

User avatar Dear Kinko,

This is a normal response to feel your heart beating stronger when you hold your breath. There is no need to worry about that.

If you are still concerned about exercise and your heart, i would recommend that you see your primary care provider to have a physical examination, take a listen of your heart, make sure you don't have any murmurs, your blood pressure and pulse are normal and that you don't have any general signs of heart disease.

Remember that before you start any vigorous exercise program or start playing one of the vigorous sports like high school or college football, you have to be cleared physically by the doctor responsible for the team.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.
 kinko - Tue Aug 17, 2004 9:12 am

I am not sure about my potassium levels, but I usually consume foods rich in potassium. However, sometimes whenever I go to sleep, palpitations still bother me, even though my potassium is fine. My blood pressure was a 110/60, and I do not have heart murmurs. I am fairly skinny(BMI 17.5) so I do not think I will ever be at risk for heart disease, at least for now. My doctor also said there were no abnormalities with my heart. The only thing I am really concerned about are the palpitations, not because they scare me, but because those fluttering sensations are very uncomfortable, especially when I am trying to sleep.
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:30 am

User avatar Dear Kinko,

You have to make sure that your potassium level is normal all the time.

It is an uncomfortable feeling to have palpitations. But, i think that you feel them more at night because it is quieter during the night and you just pay more attention to them.

If you continue to have palpitations that are really annoying to you at night, may be you will have to take a medication to control those symptoms at night time only although, personally, i don't prefer this choice because you are young and these medications have side effects.

If your doctor said that there is nothing wrong with you, then you don't have to worry about exercising.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.
 kinko - Tue Aug 17, 2004 12:57 pm

This is just out of curiosity but what do you suspect is causing those random weak pains in my left side of my chest? They are usually either the chest muscle, around one of my ribs, or occasionally releived by massaging my back. Since it is not that painful I'm pretty sure it's nothing serious, but sometimes, I experience the similar type of pain, but it feels as if it is really coming from my heart. My mother is slightly worried about this, and I cannot really find an answer. I am almost positive that the pain is not imaginative. And by the way, thank you for putting up with me so much.. I have always been a hypochondriac, and this website has been a source of relief. Thank You.
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:13 pm

User avatar Dear Kinko,

Have you ever had an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart)?

The palpitations and the chest pains that you have been having can be due to a condition known as mitral valve prolapse. It is a very common condition. It is not a serious condition and all you have to do is being followed up every now and then.

Chest pains secondary to muscle pains is not a rare occurence and can be the cause of your chest pains as well.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.
 kinko - Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:41 am

No, I have never had an echo cardiogram, and I don't think we have enough money to go to a hospital for a while. Anyway, since last night, those minor chest pains turned into occasional sharp ones. Now I feel a sharp pain in just one area of the back, but the frequency of the pains are still random....

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