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British Lung Foundation
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Pulse going high and not wanting to come down until the next day

My husband has empyema. He is on oxygen 24/7. If he is active at all I mean walking at a vey slow pace for a few minutes then exerting himself for a few minutes his oxygen level can go down to the high 60's and is pulse can go up to the 130 or more. He can sit down and his oxygen level will go back up slowly an his pulse will go down to 110 or so. If he is sitting at his desk and doing nothing else his oxygen level stays around 90 with the condenser being on 2. Just going to the bathroom slowly the condenser is on 6 and his breathing is labored. It takes a while when he sits back down to get his breath before I turn it down to 2. We were wondering if anyone had a reason for the pulse to go up so much from very little exertion

It never fully recovers until the next morning after he has done something for it to go that high.

6 Replies

Hi Jan422. I am sorry your husband is having this problem. When oxygen levels drop the heart has to work harder to push what oxygen there is around the body so that explains the higher pulse rate. Oxygen dropping to the 60s is not good and I would be asking the respiratory nurses to reassess his oxygen needs. Do encourage him not to sit for too long though. The more he moves around the stronger his muscles become and the less oxygen they will need when in use. I hope that makes sense.


Thank you He sits and lifts some weights twice a week.

We know he needs to keep moving.


Certainly follow advice from Mrsmummy re O2 assessment as the falls in O2 could be triggering the problem. Also mention to your GP and see if it is related to Atrial fibrillation (AF) as symptoms (prolonged HR increase) sound very similar to what happens to me. I have Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and AF and when the AF strikes (its not there all the time) it can have a massive effect on what I can do and causes more breathlessness than my IPF does.

In my case the AF is very often triggered by a big fall in O2 levels so see if you can get his oxygen prescription increased to prevent the falls. I also move an awfull lot slower than I used to and even take rests going to the bathroom to prevent my O2 levels falling too low in order to prevent the AF kicking in.


Thank you. I am not familiar with AF or IPF but I will check them out.


IPF is simply another lung disease that cause you to desaturate on minimal exercise like your husband does so its not that relevant to your situation. However, AF is a very common disorder in more elderly people (over 50-60) and could explain what he is experiencing. People often "sense " it as palpitations or an irregular pulse or, as in my case, it causes a really unpleasant sense of breathlessness - far worse than I ever get with my lung disease.

AF is often very easily treated - I am on a beta blocker for it and even that keeps the AF under reasonable control. In combination with lung disease AF makes life so much more difficult so its worth asking your GP to check if your husband has that problem as there may well be fairly simple treatment.


He went to the doctor and he gave him a calcium channel blocker after my husband called him back and said he thought he felt his heart skip a beat.

He is on a lot of medicine but this new one he thinks is giving him fatigue. His pulse is lower but still goes up to well over 110. the Dr told when we saw him that if it stayed up over 110 for 15 minutes he had a problem it has not done that but every thing we read says it should not go that high. Is the dr telling him 110 because of the emphysema and that is what is causing the high pulse and over 110 is safe? He is not sure if he needs the high blood pressure medicine. Or the Dr just talking to him about it he thought he needed it. Of course it has also caused ED.

We know his lungs are bad. We are very flustered.


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