More questions from me... I'm full of 'em!

This one's to do with heart rate...

I'm 49, reasonably fit, and I have a fairly low resting HR in the 40s these days, and flat out all-effort max in the low 180s, maybe high 170s now as I've not seen 180 for a few years! 10 years ago I did have a 24 hour raised HR (it stayed at 165 after a football match) and following that I had a load of investigations that showed up nothing apart from a leaky valve, which wasn't considered serious enough to need any treatment.

Over the last 10-15 years or so, since I've been using HR monitors, I've seen a fairly common anomaly, both running back in the days when I still could, and cycling, where early in the session the monitor (and this has been true with about half a dozen different ones over the years) reports my HR way over my maximum... anything from 190 to 240, most commonly in the 195-220 range. I can sometimes (but not always) feel a hard to describe 'odd' feeling in my chest at these times - no pain, just something subtly different to normal.
Today, in the heat and humidity (27C/80F) it was showing over 180 for a total of 5 minutes in 4 separate sections all in the first 12 minutes of riding, and I did feel unreasonably breathless at the time - no hills, no racing, just normal riding. After that it returned to normal (well, given the conditions and my lack of activity recently it was higher than I'd like, but 'normal' as in the 150s and 160s, and i tired rather quickly.

Last year I took HR traces from Sporttracks to my doctor, described the issue, described my mild awareness of symptoms, and showed the traces to illustrate what I meant. He instantly latched onto faulty monitors (all 6 of them?!) and couldn't be persuaded otherwise. He showed no inclination to do anything, no concern, and that was that.

From the reading I've done, this sounds like Atrial Fibrillation... if any of you have experienced similar occurrences and referred this to the medical profession, is the general response "go away, there's nothing to get excited about", or do some take it more seriously? If so, what outcomes have you had?



indyjukebox [48 posts] 2 years ago

You would certainly warrant an extended HR monitoring device for anywhere between 1-7 days given your symptoms. The issue would be that those devices (medical) are not really designed to withstand the rigours of vigorous exercise/profuse sweating.

Certainly with your past history of a raised heart rate, I am surprised that it wasn't taken more seriously.

If you think it is Atrial fibrillation, then feel for your pulse when it happens. Even with a high pulse rate, the normal heart beats regularly. With atrial fibrillation it is very erratic/irregular. So rather than blip-blip-blip, it goes blip---blip-blip-----blip.

You are also allowed to ask to see a different GP if you feel you current one is not taking you seriously.

PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago

Could be AF, could be something more or less serious (SVT etc). AF itself is worth knowing about, because sometimes it's curable, other times we can manage (reduce) risk of stroke etc.

See a doctor, get a holter monitor / 7 day monitor. Make sure you get the bigger ECG dots, the ones with little metal nipples / poppers on them are good (they stay on better), plus a few spares. An event recorder - where you press a button when symptomatic - is also a good thing.

PurpleDog [37 posts] 2 years ago
PJ McNally wrote:

Could be AF, could be something more or less serious (SVT etc).

I'm a fool! I meant SVT, not AF from the reading I'd done - that'll teach me to type late at night when I should be sleeping!

bikeclips [19 posts] 2 years ago

It could be the monitor giving a double reading but you wouldn't have symptoms and your HR would only have been 90 bpm for those 12 minutes of riding. Almost certainly an SVT of some sort. Less likely to be AF (technically an SVT itself). IIRC the commonest variant reported in athletes like this is Wolf-Parkinson-White and there is often a subtle sign of this on your ECG (basic heart trace) even when your heart rhythm is normal.

The bottom line is that 1) there is no excuse for your GP not to arrange an ECG at least. They are usually available at the surgery itself (assuming you're in the UK). 2) As the previous comments state, it would certainly not be unreasonable to get a 24 hour ECG either via the GP or after a cardiology referral. If I were in your shoes, I'd be asking for an opinion from a second GP and a cardiology referral when you get in there.

Jimmy Ray Will [537 posts] 2 years ago

Doctors can do my head in... I get it, I do, they spend most of their days seeing people with nothing wrong with them...it has to skew their viewpoint.

However, from what you'd described, I'd have expected further investigation.

I'd ask for a second opinion at this stage.

tiddy [7 posts] 2 years ago

Years ago I had similar symptoms described here to what I used to experience i.e. increased HR and an uncomfortable feeling for the first 5-10 minutes of a workout. Medical tests revealed nothing. What 'cured' me was applying cardio gel to my HRM strap. Now, I still feel lousy when I start a workout but my HR rises gradually then remains level within my target zone - no spikes, no dips (apart from efforts and recovery phases).
I am age 55, resting HR 35 and recently diagnosed as asthmatic.

jollygoodvelo [1584 posts] 2 years ago

Resting HR 35 or 40? Yikes. Mine is about 50 and I'm quite proud of that...

Paul J [908 posts] 2 years ago

As tiddy says, check that the problem isn't simply that your HRM is "dry" at the start of rides, and hence giving bad readings. Wet the strap before putting it on or, even better, use something thicker. My garmin HRM can sometimes give daft high readings at the start of rides too if I forget to wet it. I would have thought that if your heart really was going to 240 that you'd *really* feel it - wonder if any of the doctors commenting could confirm that?

Flying Scot [920 posts] 2 years ago

Sorry to hijack, but recently, 25 minutes into my (hilly) runs, my heart is going off the scale ( I don't wear a monitor, I just know !, ) after 2 minutes rest, I can continue for hours with no recurrence.

Mid 40's, riding forever, usually overweight, normal BP, low cholesterol, low cadence, heavy gears. My resting heart rate is the fast side of normal, always has been.

I ask I expect another round if well man clinic guff from the GP if reported.

It just sounded very similar to your report. I should say I live in the hills, so I don't really warm up, I'm right into it.