Can't get heart rate up: Hi, again. I... - British Heart Fou...

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Can't get heart rate up


Hi, again. I have managed to get my home Cardio Rehab going and a routine that works except maybe it doesn't. It's 10 weeks since my quadruple heart bypass and for several weeks now I have been doing Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home for a Healthy Heart in the morning and then walking around the woodland walkway (1km) near my house in the afternoon. As time has gone on I have increased the pace and in the last week or so the distance (2-2.5km) always observing what the physio told me about aiming for 13 on the Borg scale. But as a result I am not exercising in my target range which I was told should be 103-118bpm (based on an ECG score?).

My Apple watch is recording everything and I have been unable to get out of the 80's and then I made it into the 90's. Adding a 1kg weight to the morning exercise took me into the late 90's and sometimes as high as 105bpm. Walking outside there is a stretch with a slight incline and if I walking fast I can get to 100-103pm for all of 100m. I have tried pushing myself to get my heart rate up but then I often feel unwell later in the day and once or twice felt fatigued and unwell the following day. I can feel it in my chest too. Is this OK and why can't I get my heart rate up the target? I was told it didn't matter and to focus on Borg scale but lots of people seem to be exercising at a higher bpm.

15 Replies

Hey Tillymint.

Really, try not to worry about your heart rate as long as it's not going too high.

Given my posting history and of heart zone training that may seem odd for me to say, but there are a couple of reasons.

So soon after a bypass your cardio fitness will be changing (hopefully improving!) very rapidly - the gains are always fastest at the start! Because of that your heart rate for a given intensity / speed is going to change literally from one week to the next. While that gives great feedback on how you're progressing it makes HR a poor guide to what you're doing unless you constantly increase the intensity, which would be recklessly foolish at your stage!

You're also (presumably) on a lot if drugs, including beta blockers. They have a fairly unpredictable effect in heart rate but will often suppress it under exertion more than they do at rest. So that 10 beat drop in resting could easily be a 15 to 20 beat drop in maximum and something in between during moderate exercise.

Eventually, as you progress, you'll get to know your own "new normal" pattern and then HR training is great.

But, for now, training by feel is the way forward :)

Thanks. So are you saying that my target rate changes? Can I re-calculate it (Physio did ECG score less my age and -30 for beta blockers) or that I should just focus on exercising? (And yes, on lots of drugs!) Reassured that you don’t think I need to increase intensity yet.

Just focus on what's "comfortably hard" for now.

You want to know that you've been working but not feeling like you're killing yourself - an hour or so later you should feel like you could go again "if you wanted to".

Until your fully healed and regained fitness your heart rates should have settled down into a pattern you recognise.

A curious thing about those target calculations are that they're absurdly inaccurate. The "maximum" of 220-age can be 10 or more bpm out in either direction (mine says 167 but I know I can hit 178 - briefly - in the gym!)

And the beta blocker adjustment is an absolute guess because they have hugely different effects on different people. 2.5mg of biso only droppedvmy resting rate by about 3bpm but knocked 15 of my max. At normal "tough" exertion it made about 10bpm difference but felt like I was working through treacle!

Thanks - that’s really helpful, and reassuring, to know I’m doing the right thing, in the absence of any contact with either physio or cardiologist!

In the absence of professional monitoring (and especially so soon after a major operation!) it's absolutely the right thing.

It takes remarkably little effort to build core fitness as long as it's regular and reasonable length.

The good old "20 minutes brisk walk a day" is actually better for basic fitness than a once a week manic session that leaves you unable to move for the other 6 days. It's also a LOT safer!

There's plenty of future to gently explore and expand your limits if you want to when this is over and you can be monitored again :)

080311 in reply to Tillymint1971

Hi, I was told at the beginning of cardio rehab that when I was walking I was to still be able to talk to someone next to me or if I was on my own be able to sing! Have had some strange looks!

Tillymint1971 in reply to 080311

Yes, sometimes my husband walks with me and we talk.

It is maybe not what you are doing but how. Try attached

Yeah, tried this. Happier walking and doing Walk at Home. Love Leslie Sansone. There are quite a few videos with workouts at varying levels but I don't do some of the arm movements.

Hi. I'm coming up to 11 weeks post double heart bypass and, like yourself, am trying to find a home cardio workout plan that works. Have to admit though that I have given up trying to monitor my heart rate and instead focused on doing some form of daily exercise that pushes me without being too strenuous.

Hi Judge_Dredd - hope you're doing well. We'll get there!

Hi - I had HA at the start of March and I’m working my way through cardiac rehab. I have a heart rate monitor (strap around chest) and discussed target rates with the physio, her advice was that while heart rates were useful to know, don’t get fixated by them; the guide to how hard you’re working is in your ability to breathe and hold a conversation.

Wrist monitors are also not as reliable a chest monitors according to posts I have read on here.

Good luck in your continued recovery.

Hi there, I use a chest strap HRM, & a wrist smart type watch, the chest strap monitor is way more accurate. Check your HR while excercising with the good old fashioned finger on your pulse & count against a watch for 30 seconds. I can regularly get a difference of 40 BPM between the watch & what it actually is!

I'm doing the BHF cardiac rehab Level 3 video. I find this kind of exercise get's my heart rate higher than straight walking, although it's nice to get out in the fresh air. What's really important is to have a long warm up and build up gradually. This is stressed in the BHF videos. I find I can avoid feeling unwell that way. With walking I find it's a bit more difficult to gauge your effort.

I'll try this one. Thanks.

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