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Avatar universal

Is getting my heart rate near my max for extended periods of time bad for my heart?

I am a 56 year old non-smoking, white male, in excellent condition.  I have 4 older siblings who, to date, have not shown any heart problems.  My father had stents put in after age 70 and lived to 86.  My mother is 89 and has no history of heart problems.  I enjoy mountain biking and road riding and often get my heart rate up into the 170s.  I can maintain a heart rate of 170 for approximately 6-7 minutes and often do if I am in a long, steep, climb.  My question is, is this healthy or dangerous?  I have seen numerous articles which say a person shouldn't get their heart rate up over 85% of their max heart rate.  If I limited myself to that number, I would have to slow way down, especially on the climbs.  Can anyone give me some info on this?
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Avatar universal
I don't really know the answer, and doubt there really is one -- my guess is it differs on the person.  None of us can ever know the condition of all the parts of our cardiovascular system until something goes wrong with it -- or doesn't.  But I would say an interesting thread exists on this website where a physician who had been a marathon runner explained evidence showing running marathons was bad for the heart because of the over-exertion.  My own thoughts were, if you love doing what you're doing, and knowing we're all going to die some time, how much is it worth it to you to give up what you love to live a longer life?  You could die tomorrow from something else -- none of us is going to make it out of this life alive.  What I have seen is that some believe working the heart hard is good for it and others believe it isn't and I'm still guessing nobody really knows for sure because different people have different heart strength and there's just no good way to know.  I had a EKG as a necessity before undergoing surgery, and the results showed a slow heart rate.  My doctor said that could be a bad thing, indicating a pacemaker in my future, or a great thing, indicating my heart was so strong it didn't need to work that hard to do what it needed to do.  So there you go.  
20691887 tn?1504695593
If you are extremely fit, there shouldn't be any concern.  It's a problem when you aren't fit or athletic and you are doing 85% of your max heart rate.  Plus, it's not staying in the 170's the whole time you sporting.  No worries.



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