Exercising Struggles & Heart Tests

Hello, I am new to this forum and thought I would introduce myself. I have undergone some heart tests and had an abnormal ECG with right axis deviation. A Doctor misdiagnosed me with Asthma but it's now been concluded that I do not have Asthma after several thorough tests. I have problems exercising and get symptoms such as trouble breathing, feeling faint, feeling nauseas, heart rate can go crazy (sometimes after 5 mins, sometimes could be after a much longer time but often no pattern to why this is and it can be after intense or not so intense exercise). I also suffer with coughing spasms post exercise where I have coughing fits for the rest of the night and sometimes wake up like that the next day. I have scoured the web and I feel like Afib seems to be the nearest sounding possibility as to what I may have. There are heart problems that run in both sides of my family. My heartrate has been the one thing that makes me nervous for sure. I exercise a lot and would have thought after a few years and feeling fitter (despite symptoms) that the heartrate erraticness would have settled but I regularly see my heart rate going over the recommended maximum for my age (I'm 29) and my heart rate takes time to climb down once it has sky rocketed as well. I guess maybe I should not be writing a post on here as I have not been diagnosed as such but I guess I just wondered if anyone has a similar story to mine. I've been waiting almost a year with ongoing tests and appointments. I'm due to have a 48 hour monitor fitted soon to use 1 day during exercise and 1 day without. I also have had bad experiences giving blood and have been barred from doing so (I wonder if this is heart related) as I got such bad dizziness I'm no longer allowed to donate sadly. I'm of a healthy weight and eat healthily as well so I can't quite place my finger on what else could be causing my symptoms if it is not an arrhythmia. Hopefully I will get some answers soon but reading some posts on what others suffer with exercise wise I really empathise with. Hope everyone on here is able to manage their health accordingly. If anyone feels that they can reply to my post please do. It's not so easy to try and talk to friends or family as they don't understand that there could be something behind the health issues. Thanks for reading.

11 Replies

  • Welcome to our world but I'm not really sure if you have AF or not. Your symptoms are not typical if there is such a thing for AF . Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and irregular heart beat which is easy to feel on the pulse and even easier to see on an ECG so I would be surprised if you had gone any length of time without it showing up on a test. It happens when the left atrium becomes exited by random electrical impulses and instead of contracting in a regular manner, writhes like a bag of worms. Paroxysmal AF means that it comes and goes but even so I would have hoped that somebody would have picked it up. Hopefully the monitor will show what is occurring and you will get a proper diagnosis in due time. AF is life changing rather than life threatening but you do need to see the right people as GPs and most cardiologists are not really with it regarding this mongrel condition. IF you do get a diagnosis of AF then your best bet is an electrophysiologist who is a cardiologist who specialises in rhythm disorders

    There are lots of different arrhythmias apart from AF although that is the most common one so I think the future tests will reveal what is happening and then you can start learning what you are capable of and what your future looks like.

    Good luck on your journey and do ask any specific questions which we will try to answer.


  • Hi luckylouise,

    Just to add to what Bob said, he uses two expressions to describe AF - 1) "Your symptoms are not typical if there is such a thing for AF", and the 2nd - "regarding this mongrel condition".

    They probably both describe AF - it can be all things to all people. Nobody knows what starts it, what the triggers are - different for all of us. My daughter was 27 - 28 when first diagnosed - it occurred during her first pregnancy. It returned during her 2nd pregnancy. Over time, she is now 33, she has developed an interest in some 'extreme' sports like Thai Kick boxing. My paroxysmal AF started after about 2 and half years of massive palpitations. Yet, the day it struck, I felt as if I were going down with 'flu with no suggestion there was anything going on in my chest - until during that day my blood pressure and heart rate went ballistic. Then 4 months later I associated the onset of an AF event with food I'd eaten. The trigger it seems (in my case) appears to be a dysfunctional Vagal or Vagus Nerve. It is a nerve in the central nervous system ( a wandering nerve 'cos that's what it does - wanders all over the body) but in particular it affects both heart and digestive system. (suggest you google it for more info). It has a number of characteristics or associations with everyday life and those I can think of offhand are; stress, (remember stress itself can take many forms, like having a stressful job thro to my daughter who experienced internal body stresses during pregnancy and even down to hormonal changes during pregnancy), genetics (if your family have a history of AF/heart/stroke issues), then there is food, extreme sports/exercise, i.e. running, cycling, even some military pilots who regularly undertake high 'G' force manoeuvers can get it. However, it seems that many people also need to have a predisposition to the condition. Also some people can be asymptomatic, that is they have it but don't necessarily experience the symptoms at all. The other thing is that it is a condition that does seem to be affecting younger people. I was 65 when diagnosed (after a pretty fit life with very few medical issues and now being only marginally overweight), I'm now 71.

    Hopefully your upcoming tests will produce some pointers or better still something more definitive and if you feel inclined do tell us the results.

    Good luck.


  • Welcome to this board.

    You will get all the help you need here.

    Take care.


  • Thanks for the replies. I will post my results when I get them. I've found the British Heart Foundation helpline helpful. They have suggested also asking for a tilt test to see if I have a condition called POTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome). This can cause symptoms during exercise such as headaches, fatigue, palpitations, sweating, nausea, fainting and dizziness and are associated with an increase in heart rate from the lying to upright position. I wish the specialists have been seeing were a bit more informative on what they think the issue could be but I guess they can't really speculate and scare people! I don't think my heart rate is normal at times. When I had exercise lung function tests they showed good lung function but the specialist commented that my heart rate took a long time to recover back down after the exercise test I did and she didn't even know I'm under a Cardiologist. I'm definitely confused as to what I may have. I guess people just hope they can get diagnosed properly and then that really helps. I also have been diagnosed with Anxiety (quite a while ago) and wonder if that is actually misdiagnosed if it is actually my heart rate that could be erratic. I've had low, high & normal blood pressure results at different times. I don't have anaemia and always have good iron levels. I will give any updates should I get any closer to a diagnosis.

  • Good luck on your journey. I hope that you keep us posted and keep asking questions. Gracey

  • Hi Lucky Louise. I am not able to comment upon your condition but the coughing thing, I can relate to. I have AF and run. When I run during the Winter, especially on cold nights, when I finish my runs, I start coughing. Never during the runs. Only when I stop. It is a right nuisance and can continue for some time. My GP said I don't have Asthma due to my lung capacity but he said I do have an irritation to the cold air. He actually referred to it as "Runner's Wheeze" or something!?! Anyway, I now take a blue pump after my runs to open up the airways and it helps a bit. Hope you get yourself sorted, best of luck :)

  • Hi Yanbart, Inhalers didn't work for me that's why I started having Lung & Heart tests. I went from the blue inhaler all the way up to very strong steroid inhalers taken morning & night and before, during & after exercise, which did not help breathing or coughing. The Lung Function tests came back fine and the specialists did get me to the point of coughing post exercise which still showed my Lungs were ok despite coughing. I don't exercise outside much but indoors I have had the post exercise cough so it can't be just to do with the cold weather. It is very odd and I'm not sure what brings it on. If it was during the exercise that the cough came on it would be easier to say to myself ok maybe I am pushing too hard and stop but it comes on afterwards so is a bit annoying! Glad that the blue inhaler works for you though, have you had a diagnosis of exercise-induced asthma? That's what the Asthma Doctor originally thought I had and I was told I could take the inhaler before exercise then during (if I needed to) and after (if I needed to). I wonder if it would benefit you to take the blue inhaler before exercise to 'prevent' the symptoms coming on or at least reduce the chance of symptoms coming on? Just a though...perhaps you could ask your GP, as I'm just saying what was advised for me, though may not be the same for you of course.

  • I have been getting the occasional chest pains not from exercising. Yesterday the whole upper area of my chest was painful when I got up and then the pain moved to my heart area when it travelled from my upper chest. It felt like someone was standing on me. I decided to go to sleep as I felt extreme exhaustion before the pain came on and light headed. When I fell asleep I woke up to find both my arms and hands tingling with pins and needles which went away after I moved around for a while. Later yesterday evening I had pins and needles in my leg also. The lightheadedness was still on and off all night. I spoke to a pharmacist and she said it may be to do with my heart behaving abnormally. Not really sure if this sounds like a symptom of an underlying arrhythmia or not. Still confused as to what could be wrong with me. I also remembered I got pins and needles recently in both legs at the gym while on the cross trainer. Wondering if this could be related to my other issues. Going to let my Cardiologist know for sure. Doing an internet search i'm not sure if where I got pins and needles means anything but as it happened after chest pain this time i think the 2 could be connected. Anyone had pins and needles before related to heart?

  • You should go straight to A&E with crushing chest pain and overwhelming exhaustion - stop guessing put it in the hands of the professionals to diagnose you from tests and rule out potentially serious issues - until you are clearer of your diagnosis I would be very very wary of pushing the exercise - a bit of caution and prioritising your health now won't stop you going back to exercise as appropriate - keep safe and take care of yourself Jo

  • I have had my holter monitor 48 hour test done now. Just waiting on the results but the Cardiology department say they are very much behind and I may not get my results until my next appointment in May. Hoping that the results will get back to me sooner if there is something wrong. I almost fainted at the gym since my last post on here. I am pretty convinced certain exercises that have position changes and head below heart stuff makes me unwell. During the holter monitor on my non exercise day I felt my heart thudding on a couple of occasions so I will see if that is something when my results come back. On the exercise day I practised exercises with my PT that usually make me feel funny. I had 2 dizzy spells and later on when I got home got a cough and migraine. I'm sure the symptoms are all linked to the exercise. It's like a strange intolerance to certain movements is the best way I can think of describing it. Really just want to know what is causing everything.

  • So it looks like I have Second-Degree Heart Block. That showed up on the Holter Monitor results. The person giving me my results wasn't able to advise why my heart rate went 'very high' during exercise and on one day (the one where I was not exercising) he thought I was exercising as my heart rate went 'very high'. I don't think this guy was qualified to interpret my results. He seemed to think Second-Degree Heart Block was a common finding and didn't require treatment but doing a quick Google brings up if you have symptoms like I have dizziness, feeling faint and so on then it could require being fitted with a pacemaker. Guess I don't have aFib but certainly a bit miffed by the guy that delivered my results. Not sure if anyone else on here has Second-Degree Heart Block and can shed any light? Thinking of contacting my GP ASAP and asking her to interpret my results

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