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Avatar universal

Why does my heart rate get so high during exercise?

Hello! I am a 17-year-old female. I weight 157 and am about 5'7. I'm writing today because, while I am able to do weight lifting and use cross-trainers/bikes, jogging is terribly difficult for me. I can run for a few minutes with almost no problems, but after 2-4 minutes my heart rate picks up. Whenever I check it (by counting the number of beats in 10 seconds), it is over 180 bpm.
I had various cardiac tests performed, but my heart is apparently completely healthy. All they found was a barely there sinus arrhythmia, which is pretty common in young adults. During the stress test, my blood pressure started at 100/60 (it might have been 100/70, I'm unsure of the diastolic number), and rose to 140/80, with my heart rate peaking at 197 bpm.
I tried ignoring the issue at first, but the jogging we were forced to do at the start of tennis practice was hard on me. It wasn't particularly unreasonable exercise, but it was difficult for me. I tried pushing through it, and even got an inhaler prescribed, thinking that maybe it would help (i had childhood asthma). The albuterol in the inhaler only made my heart race more, and after pushing myself for a few weeks, I started feeling exhausted all the time. I had something like a panic attack one day after a difficult practice. I was so exhausted I barely had energy to shut the trunk after putting my tennis racket away. I sat in my car, thinking that i would go home, eat, and take a nap, when suddenly I started crying, my heart was racing, and most of my arms and my entire arms become numb and tingling almost immediately. I called my grandparents to drive me home (I had assumed the numbness was from lack of oxygen). I don't remember being particularly scared or anxious at the time. I told my  doctor this, but she chalked it up to anxiety and gave me pills (though I told her I don't typically experience anxiety symptoms). They have had no effect whatsoever, negative or positive. After this incident, I felt exhausted at all times. I got out of breath walking up stairs, I couldn't exercise at all, and I couldn't even skip when I walked. This is when I got my heart tested (and pulmonary function). I had to wait 2 weeks to get the tests done, and by then I was getting slightly better; stairs weren't as much of an issue. By 3-4 weeks I felt fine, and went back to playing tennis. Luckily, games had started, and we didn't have to jog anymore.
I would just stop running, but I want to play tennis, and tennis season is coming up again. Also, I take hip hop dance classes. I became dizzy during my last class, and I'm worried my heart rate will be a problem.
Any ideas?
5 Responses
Avatar universal
There are no medical experts on this forum, just folks like you, but I do have an anxiety problem and you don't want to be on meds for it if you don't have it -- they can be very sedating or very stimulating depending on the drug and the person, and can also be very hard to stop taking.  Given you say you don't have an anxiety problem, you don't have anxiety problem -- anxious people feel scared irrationally, they don't just have physiological symptoms.  Those follow the fear, not the other way around.  So if the way you describe it is the way it's happening, your doctor just wanted to get rid of you and gave you a drug, which is what they do so they can move on to the next patient and keep ringing up that money.  You're a difficult case, and only the best doctors like difficult cases.  Obviously, this is a very weird case, because you're able to play tennis, an extremely invigorating sport, and you're able to do highly aerobic activities, just not jogging.  Here's two possibilities:  one is, you have a psychological problem with jogging.  I actually had a problem with running when I was a kid and we had to run in junior high school.  I would always get way out of breath and throw up just running the 600, which is a short distance, but I could play sports all day with no problem.  It was psychological, and when I got older, I got past it and could run for an hour with no problem.  Now, I will say, tennis does require running, but as far as long-term health is concerned, running just blows out your knees and feet and hips when you get old, so It's not the most recommended pastime for health professionals, but I loved it as long as I could do it.  If this is the problem, you can work it out yourself by just jogging slowly and slowly build up until you're past the mind block.  Stop counting your heart beats -- nobody used to do this, nobody -- I'm 64 now and I have to tell you, nobody ever did this until people trying to sell you gadgets talked you into it.  But adding in that the dancing made you dizzy, that adds another element, which is a possible balance problem from the inner ear or something else.  I used to have this as well, if I did anything that required a lot of head movement, and you might be doing this when you're jogging as well.  Tennis doesn't bother you probably because you're concentrating on your technique so much and get into the competition.  And there's a third possibility -- you do suffer anxiety and haven't told us this, because dizziness and disorientation can be a side effect of anxiety.  Your doctor isn't completely off base.  But I'm going on you saying you don't feel scared and anxious and you would if you had a chronic anxiety problem.  What would I do?  I'd find better doctors -- maybe even a place like the Mayo Clinic -- and get to the bottom of this once and for all.  Peace.
Thanks for giving an honest, thoughtful reply. I'm going to go back to doing mainly weightlifting/muscle building and do a smaller amount of running, at least for now.
I'm honestly just frustrated with running. I thought it might have been a psychological block myself, since I had asthma as a kid and running has never been easy. I only started checking my pulse because during our running exercises during tennis practice, my throat would start hurting, and when I bent over to catch my breath, my vision would bulge in and out with my heart beat (which at that point I could hear and feel in my chest).
20691887 tn?1504695593
Are you only having this with jogging?  Did you just start jogging; have you ever jogged in the past?  Doctor order any labs?  Anemic?  POTS?  Anemia can cause these issues.  What a lazy physician. I guess it's just easier for her to throw a prescription at you vs. investigate.
I was very iron deficient. I had a ferritin level of 6 and my iron serum percentage was 3.7%. However, I have been on iron pills for a while, and I feel much better.
I think the problem I have with jogging is that it keeps my heart rate elevated for a very long time. The other exercises I do typically only require short bursts of energy, so they're fine. It takes a few minutes for the high heart rate to take its toll on me.
I haven't been jogging that long, only a few weeks. I've just been very frustrated with it; I feel like I should be able to slowly jog (and I mean very slow, like 3.5 mph) without my heart rate being above 180. It seems like I only ever get the out of the ordinary feelings once it gets over 180 bpm.
Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure I have POTS too. I used to get dizzy spells a lot when I stood up. My doctor has mentioned it before as well. It's been better since I lost weight, started exercising, and drinking more water (over a year; two, I think).
Can that affect exercise heart rate?
Have you been tested since you've been on those iron pills?  Doctor prescribed iron is usually not in the form the body can use very well, and it causes constipation as well.  Plant based iron is a much better source, such as from eating a lot of green leafy vegetables such as parsley, dandelion greens, and the like and a supplement called Floradix.  The iron levels are low in the supplement, but they will be absorbed well.  I have to say, it doesn't sound like you have a very good diet, and you need that for exercise.  You very well might be deficient in electrolytes, which could also be causing your problems, especially potassium and magnesium.  Could be low in vitamin D, although if you play tennis I assume you're out in the sun and that should give you good D levels.  I'm still going to say, playing tennis at a serious level is pretty darned aerobic even though it's start and stop, so i'm not sure I'm buying the jogging is constant argument unless you play tennis like old folks do, more for talking and socializing than working out.  Sprinters start and stop a lot, too, right?  Most athletes don't jog, they do interval training, with a lot of starts and stops so they get stronger acceleration, and that's darned aerobic as well.  Just some thoughts here.  Ever tried bicycling?  I'm just curious if you'd have the same result if you biked hard for a couple hours.  If not, this is just weird.
20691887 tn?1504695593
Yes, that can affect your heart rate=POTS

Are you running in dirt or on the pavement?  Running up inclines or flat ground?  That will definitely affect how hard you are working your heart.  Jogging is very different from Cross Trainer/Bike and Weight Lifting.  Jogging is high impact (pounding the full force of your weight up the ground and requiring loads of endurance) whereas Cross Trainer/Bike is low impact and Weight Lifting is pure anerobic.  

Seems like anything you do high impact, feet directly on the ground and challeging your endurance is causing a problem.  How far are you able to jog before you have the problem?  And I wouldn't even think about doing Hip Hop Dance until you get this sorted.  You may just need more time to condition your body to do the jogging as your endurance isn't great for the jogging.  Are you doing a good warm-up before the jogging?  Brisk walking?  I hope you aren't just starting to jog without a good warm-up for your body.  How often are you doing the jogging?  If you are doing it only once a week then you will never build any endurance.  

Well, I know you've stated you feel better after being on the iron pills, but have you had labs redone to confirm your blood levels are better?  Just be aware that there is no cure for POTS.  You just have to be dilligent with your lifestyle changes and don't challenge your body especially when you know you shouldn't.  

This may the case of too much too soon and/or your anemia and POTS is not going to allow you to do the jogging.

I typically run on a treadmill, with no or a very slight incline. I was jogging a few times a week, but I got sick (only a cold, but I was hacking up phlegm) for a week, and I have only jogged once or twice in the last two weeks. I'll continue to try to get my body accustomed to running, maybe try going at an even slower pace to try to keep my heart rate lower.
Just curious, how difficult should it be to get your heart rate up? It always seems difficult for other people.
Also, I went in to get my blood checked about 2 weeks ago. I'm still waiting on the results. I also had a bacterial imbalance in my intestines, which I was taking a probiotic for (probably caused by antibiotic use (for acne)) and a hormonal imbalance (currently on birth control for that). I also have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (autoimmune caused hypothyroidism, but my thyroid numbers have never been off since I began taking the synthroid, so I doubt that's affecting it.
Truth is, nobody ever used to check their heart rate.  This is a relatively new thing that helps sell technology gadgets.  Also, the counters on the treadmills aren't usually all that accurate -- nor are the Fitbits and such.  I'm in my sixties now, and seriously, nobody ever ever checked their heart rate unless they had had heart problems and had to.  We just exercised, and if we go too tired, we slowed down.  I often think people are driving themselves crazy with all these gadgets instead of just enjoying exercising.  But it does sound like you've got a lot going on with your body, so just take it slow, do what you're able, and most importantly, have fun doing it.
I don't use devices to check it. When I finish running or take a break I count it myself, or if it gets very high I'll check it. Usually I only check it when I start to feel strange. I always wear a watch, so ill count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. When it gets high, I can barely keep up with the beats, It'll be over 30 beats in 10 seconds.
My suggestion?  Stop doing that.  Go by how you're feeling.  These things fluctuate a lot.  Relax into it.  Running, once you get used to it, is a lot like meditation -- you just start to let go.  Focusing so hard on body parts you've been cleared of any problem with will just make you anxious.  
A lot can affect the heart. Even if your heart is fine, it can still be overworked due to other problems. My physician told me (I happened to see her today, and I asked about it) to try an inhaler. I had bad asthma when I was a kid, which scarred my lungs. She said that, even if I don't feel constriction in my lungs, I may still have exercise-induced asthma, and my lungs may not be supplying enough oxygen, and so my heart may be speeding up to try to get more oxygen through my body. I'm going to try it out later today.
Avatar universal
As you exercise your heart start pumping at much faster rate than normal, it happens with everyone when we exercise blood flow rate in our body increases that only cause this and if you have asthma than you have to be little concern towards that, avoid oily food and cold drinks that also increases all this issues.
I am also having asthma since my birth & i use inhaler to...this is what i do.  
20691887 tn?1504695593
I've been checking my heart rate before, during and after exercise for over 30 years, so no this isn't anything new and yes it is important to know your target heart rate range in regards to exercise/activity for your age because you need to know what range is consider safe and what range you need to be in to get any benefit from the exercise/activity.  You can google target heart rate calculator for your specific age.  I try to stay in the fat burning range when I exercise because I want to lower my fat %.  

If it is easy to get your heart rate up quickly and extremely high then your condition isn't good in regards to that activity.  For instance if I get on the treadmill and my resting heart rate goes from 70 bpm to 180 bpm in 5 mins, then my condition isn't great for that activity.  

I say drop the speed down on the treadmill and see what happens.  I will say those monitors on the treadmills aren't exact, but most are pretty close.  You can always do your 10 secs check.  I  use an elliptical machine and treadmill and it took me about 4-6 weeks for my condition to become better.  You are younger than I am, so I am assuming it should happen faster for you, but given your medical history I am not sure.  You could try doing it more times/week at a slower pace and see what happens.  If you are jumping on here and there without any real schedule then yes you won't be able to condition effectively.  
My physician told me (I happened to see her today, and I asked about it) to try an inhaler. I had bad asthma when I was a kid, which scarred my lungs. She said that, even if I don't feel constriction in my lungs, I may still have exercise-induced asthma, and my lungs may not be supplying enough oxygen, and so my heart may be speeding up to try to get more oxygen through my body. I'm going to try it out later today. Thanks for the response!
Your physician would know best.  Hope it works!  
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