Exercise and unwelcome high heart rate. - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Exercise and unwelcome high heart rate.


Hi there I'm new to this site. A fifty-six year old female who had a heart attack in January of this year.The causes I've been told by my Cardiologist are genetics and bad luck ! I am not overweight, eat a plant based diet am a non smoker and have been exercising regularly. I am currently returning to exercise and have been able to do around 6 to 10 short laps of gentle jogging.I have just this week been issued with a heart rate monitor (the type which straps around your chest and sends a read out to a wrist watch receiver) I have been told not to exceed 117 beats per minutes but am up to 140 beats after one lap of gentle jogging. On my warm up walk I am again up to 140 beats on a moderate slope. I feel comfortable whilst exercising and ca still hold a conversation. I am really upset by this development as I had been feeling so positive and now feel back down again ! I am taking a low dose beta blocker. I was just wondering if anyone has had a similar experience and what was the outcome .

18 Replies

I found on a beta blocker my pulse would be lower than normal -about 110-120 but would go 130 with a jog. I would say that is a normal pulse for jogging as it's more strenuous than other forms of exercise. Maybe recheck with the person or ask someone else

Who told you not to exceed 117 beats per minute?

On the cardio rehab course that I did, the recommendation was to complete 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. The key word there is "moderate", there were two levels of aerobic exercise, moderate and severe.

I'm guessing here, but I suspect the 117 bpm advice fits with moderate aerobic. That doesn't make 140 dangerous, as Leadec pointed out, you can probably safely exercise at about 140 bpm, but this is a different category of exercise which adds more joint and muscular strain, so is probably best left until you've dropped a pound or two.

In any event, keep up with the exercise. I suspect relatively few heart patients actually follow through with sustained and appropriate exercise, so massive kudos to you for getting your plimsols on!

Thank you soo much Chappychap for your very lovely and encouraging reply, it is greatly appreciated.

It was a cardiac nurse who told me about the 117 beats per minute, she had told me that I should do some cardio exercise, because previously and pre-MI I had been walking for 90 minutes, 5 times a week. I'm also 8 and a half stones, 5"5" and vegan. My condition is down to genetics and back luck apparently! It is reassuring to know that the 140 rate isn't anything to be unduly concerned about. I have repeatedly got conflicting information from rehab and had to consult a cardiologist privately, out of sheer desperation, he has told me to carry on with what I'm currently doing as long as I don't have any chest pain or discomfort.

I’m another non-smoking, healthy eating, active light drinker (49) who had a CA out of the blue in February, now have two very fine DES’s... Initially found the cardiac rehab sessions quite frustrating with a target HR of 113 max when I used to hill climb on my bike at 150. When I spoke to the nurses I don’t really think they’d taken into account I wasn’t a typical example, and they dug the tables out and, taking the Bisoprolol into account decided 130 would be okay but more than 140 I’d be at risk of angina... That’s plenty for me, accepting that things aren’t quite the same as they were! The monitor is great, it’s a licence to exercise at what feels like a lowish level whilst still feeling confident it’s doing good, and so I end up going longer which is good too. Hate running though, and HR always shoots up so I’ll stick to the bike! Bill

I understand there are a lot of healthy individuals out there who, jog, walk, bike etc... or at-least have the determination to keep healthy; yet, for some reason, many so-called healthy people suffer with heart attacks or heart related issues.

So why is it, that fat baldy beer belly, burger ‘n’ chips, smoking 50 something, continues on that course and never suffers any health problems? And I know a few of those from a distance.

Yet, everybody I’m acquainted with or know or have heard of etc... who are so careful with their health and attitude and diet, seem to end up with heart attacks or heart related issues. Just a while back someone I knew from a young age had a cardiac arrest and didn’t survive yet he was a gym teacher at a comprehensive school or whatever they call them these days; so how does that work out?

Which is it?

A/ Fit n healthy = heart probs or eventually!

B/ Fat n roly poly = happy swilling it down; job done and the next one!

Charlie_G in reply to Dickydon

It’s unfortunate, but there are loads of similar parallels you could draw in medicine, such as someone who’s never smoked getting emphysema, and the role of genetics in developing conditions can’t be downplayed. Healthy diet and lifestyle will cut the risks of directly related issues generally, but it’s ultimately not going to be enough if you’re genetically wired to have a particular problem or propensity towards a problem. And part of the difficulty there is that human knowledge and understanding of the body, particularly at the genetic level, is still relativity basic; ask any expert in any field and they will tell you that on balance, we’ve come a long way in the last 100 years, but what we actually know about biology and medicine is still *massively* outweighed by what we don’t...🤷‍♂️

Dickydon in reply to Charlie_G

You summed it up there Charlie_G.

I love your attitude and I feel EXACTLY the same!!!!!! There are times when it takes all my powers of self control not to scream at those fat lardy individuals stuffing their big faces full of sugar and saturated fats incurring absolutely no consequences!!!!!

I guess life just really isn't fair.

Best follow advice. HR is all up the creek when taking beta blockers, and the rate it increases can be odd. Mine can be sensible one minute and really high very quickly after.

Thank you, yes I beginning to realise that.

My own experiences of cardio rehab nurse/cardiologists advice re acceptable heart rates whilst exercising was there was no consistent evidence based view on what was ok. I think during post stent/Mi event recovery there is a need to allow a time for recovery/repair but past that it seems more down to what your capable of rather than a set of cardio guidelines of no more than x% of theoretical max HR for age etc. I had one cardiologist (A&E visit) look at me in shock when I told him I regularly run at the max of my HR aerobic range an occasionally in my Threshold HR range (above the aerobic HR zone) and very occasionally hit max HR when out on my mountain bike hours exercise regime. Another I saw said there is no science advising against what I'm doing other than its a risk averse approach, ie less R /less effort means its less likely to trigger an unexpected event due to said effort. That said I do on occasions notice increased chest discomfort post activity but I also have those on days when I not able to spot what a trigger would be (such as during rest etc) but that is another area of cardiology "mysteries" that I think medical science hasn't got a consistent /repeatable view on :) . PS whilst I was in cardio rehab post stenting I regular saw 120-130+hr when merely walking up moderate hills. Now the 130 up HR range is for when I'm slogging up long hills on my mtb , I still can run in the +150 max HR range when at end of a arduous climb (for me) though I need to make a conscious extra effort to get the (age based) max HR bell ringing .

Thank you BillyMct for taking the time to reply to me in such length, it is much appreciated. I have gone from feeling initially devastated, thinking that I couldn't go for a simple walk, that I previously would've done everyday, to now feeling much more encouraged. I had a total of five stents inserted, the last one around six weeks ago, I am assuming from your reply that the HR improves over time, which is encouraging as I really do not want to go down the route of taking a higher dose of beta blockers.

I hope this reply will help you with your heart rate when exercising. Keep exercising but you know your body better than anybody - so listen to it. If you feel comfortable at 140 - then continue. If you don’t - slow down until you do feel ok.

I’ve run 27 marathons. I’m 80 years old and I run every day (& have for 40 years) but I have A/F (atrial fibrillation) so my heart beat is all over the place depending on when the reading is taken. If I use a treadmill, that checks my pulse rate 230 is not uncommon because it’s taken the reading at the flutter stage of the A/F cycle. If I feel ok I keep running. If I don’t I ease back a little.

Thank you soo much for taking the time to reply to me, it's much appreciated. Your story is very encouraging and amazing, 27 marathons wow! I will start back to my exercising again and yes, I agree, we do our own body's. Thank you again.

Ravaging in reply to LenaCourt

27 marathons. Total respect. x

Thank you soo much for your reply, I will look up the Borg rate.

It sounds like you are doing really well. My heart jumps about for no apparent reason, but I'm still alve.

Take care


Hi, Mistertumnus

If one qualified specialist professional tells you one thing, and another tells you another - take your pick! Was the cardio nurse fully acquainted with your history?

I was disabled for about half a decade before they replaced my pacemaker and fitted an additional atrial lead, six months ago.

I had angina walking 200m!

I increased my exercise to walking 50km a week - but that was too much, and I now walk 30 or 40 km a week.

I never ran a marathon - but I did cycle 15,000 miles a year for several years - and cycled 750 miles in 90 hours in 1995.

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