I experience tachycardia at times during exercise

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I'm new here, so apologies if I've missed anything but I can't find any direct information on my problem, so I'm asking your advice.

I'm 49, reasonably fit currently with cycling but have been involved in sports (running, volleyball, football, tennis, squash etc.) all my life - sadly retired from all those others now due to injuries, but still cycling (did the coast to coast a couple of years ago, planning to do the Ridgeway off-road in one day later this year...).

I use a heart rate monitor when cycling, and have done for the last 15 years (running too, back when I could), and have always seen heart rate spikes up to around 230 bpm, often in the early part of a ride (or run). Initially I put it dwn to faulty equipment or local signal interference, but many monitors with improved technologies later I still see the same effects regularly. When it happens I can discern an effect (and can predict the rise on the readout occasionally), but it is subtle and doesn't stop me riding at whatever intensity level I'm at.

Ten years ago I suffered a tachycardia after a game of football that lasted 12 hours or so, and underwent a battery of tests but they showed nothing aside from a leaky heart valve that wasn't considered overly worrying.

I went to my doctor last year to ask about the exercise HR spikes, but because I took HRM recordings as evidence he dismissed it as equipment failure and wasn't interested. I insisted he refer to a colleague and he agreed, but reported back that his colleague agreed with him.

They clearly weren't concerned... my question is, should I be? From all I've read I suspect it's probably supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), but of course that's not a diagnosis, and the doc didn't offer any suggestions.

So, do I need to worry about it? Or is it normal and harmless? If I can't get my GP to pay attention, what other options do I have?

Thanks for your time,


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  • Posted

    Hello Dave,

     i can sympathise and totally understand where your coming from. A couple of years ago i was out walking and i wore a polar pulse monitor (not a cheap one) this had always been reliable previously as i had calibrated it woith manual pusle checks. I had a reading of 220 to 230 i felt fine so like you passed it off as equipment error. I later changed the batteries. A few weeks later i was jogging and a similar thing happened i was was nearing the end of my run  when i suddenly felt a burst of energy and felt great i sped up and was running well. I checked my pulse monitor ans saw it was reading 236. Cleary not a normal pulse rate so i stopped running and tried to take it manually. I was unable to do so the only was i could describe it is that my pulse was all over the place and i could not catch it to monitor it. At this point it strated to panic and got home. this continued for about 10 mins before reducing to 100 whichg for me is still really high. 

     I should add that i have suffered palpitations for many years and was diagnosed as having an ectopic heart beat (benign), however i have never had this situation before.

     i went to hospital and had all the ecgs etc was kept there for 3 hours having had blood tests for heart attack. I was told my rhythm was not normal but was sometimes seen in athletes (dont get me wrong im by no means an althete i just used to jog 2 to 3 miles to keep the weight off). After all checks were completed i was told not to train so hard and sent home with no issues.

     I have had all of the tests under the sun and have no structural issues however still suffer palpitations and related panic about them. I had a holter monitor for a week oncw which picked up a very short bout of VT (5 seconds) but my cardio was not too concerned.I have not used my heart monitor since, howver i did by a hand held egc machine for my peace of mind and recorded proof should i ever need it for the doctors in the future because unless they can see whats happened they only test you again and odds are that it never occurs when they are looking for it.

     Im betting mine was also SVT and i believe ill get it again at some point, keep an eye on it though if it does not go down it could be AF. This happened to my dad. i must add im 39 by the way and had rythm issues for nearly 10 years now. i tend to avoid CV excercise these days other than walking. Its odd as i know sometimes when my heart is going to play up and it occurs in bouts.

    I hope this gives you a little peace of mind to know your not alone in this issue. Its odd but i find knowing others have the same issues as me make me feel a little better.

    Do you sometimes get the feeling of a pause in heart rate then a large thump in the chest when exercising as well?

    regards C

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Chalky, it does seem these intermittent things are difficult to diagnose.

      "Do you sometimes get the feeling of a pause in heart rate then a large thump in the chest when exercising as well?"

      No, actually... sometimes I'm more aware of my heart beating than others, but I've never felt it pause...



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  • Posted

    I am 66 and in reasonably good shape.  I work out 5 days/wk, alternating cardio w/weights.  I stopped running 3 yrs ago (back surgery) but continue on the stationary bike for 40 mins per session - at varying levels.  I push myself every 10 min period for 5 mins and this gets my peak heart rate up (usually) to 150 bpm on average, w/ 148 if feeling great or 152 if struggling.  

    For the past 2 years, aperiodically, I note on my Polar Monitor (worn religiously) that I hit numbers in the 220's although up until yesterday I never actually saw the number on my watch during exercize - it was only at summary that I noted the high point.  Also, I never had any feeling at all in my chest until yesterday when I felt a slight twinge in my chest and I immediately looked at my watch and noted a spike from 140+/- to 167 for only a split second and then the monitor returned to 140+/-.

    I had everything from nuclear tests to stress tests, ultrasounds etc and no impairment or condition was found (although when I used a tracking device for a wk w leads attached to my chest, when I got to the high 140's no adhesive would allow the contact to stay put and thus no incident could have been recorded.

    I feel good (for my age) but get a bit concerned although friends of mine (including my internist) say it's probably just a 1 off electrical incident.

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  • Posted

    I spoke to my internist yesterday (I work out w/him regularly) and I told him my self diagnosis of Tachycardia.  He said if it is an intermittent or occassional spike, not to worry about it at all.  Concern seems to occur only if it is a lengthy event.
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  • Posted

    Hi purpledog, have you found out any more about this? Does it still occur to you? Do you have any other issues? I ask because I recently took about a two month hiatus from working out and then jumped right back into intense cardiovascular. This is the first time I've ever used a heart rate monitor but twice in three weeks I can feel my heart rate skyrocket all of the sudden and won't go back down for 3-5min. I had my heart rate monitor on the second time it happened and it was reading 230bpm. The first time I got a little light headed but didn't pass out. The second time I was still able to continue workout through it. After about 5 min ilwhen it's done it drops back down to 140-150 almost instantly.

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    • Posted

      Hi Kalgatha I've had exactly the same whilst walking my Polar said 220 Bpm but I felt fine. I changed the batteries and thought nothing more of it. Whilst out for a run ( going back a few years now) I suddenly felt great and it was like a car hitting a turbo I was at the end of the run but could have gone faster then I checked my polar ( with new batteries) and it said 236 Bpm. Then I felt my heart racing above and beyond norm. I got home and 10-15 mins later it had reduced but was still in the 100's. I went to the A&E was there for hours but nothing was ever picked up I was just told I may have over done the training and tontake it easy. It happened again this time I had a holter on and felt a kick in the chest and a racing heart. Trip to hospital kept in then released the next day again no issues no heart attack ( phew). I was told by my cardio later that it was a burst of VT, I panicked googled etc but eventually was told not to worry...... but I did. Then I went to see a top professor and he interpreted my results and said that it was a "concert" of ectopics acting together. Ie about 5 PVCs in a row. Then he said don't worry. I queried the risk of cardiac arrest and basically he said don't worry about anything do what you want don't let this limit you in any way!

      I can't say that it hasn't because I get this a for bit so it's ruined my life and I generally avoid the cause which is exercise. I get palps anyway just less messy and forceful when not exercising. I hope you get a good result and that it doesn't efffect you links it has me.

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    • Posted

      These postings are all very interesting, and I’m grateful to everyone for sharing their experience. It’s very useful and educational.

      Here’s my situation: I’m a 72-year-old male with heart disease. (I had one stent emplaced about 8 years ago, and second about 3 years ago.)

      For the past 3 years, I’ve been going regularly (4 or 5 days a week) to a cardio rehab gym at a local hospital. Each time I work out very hard for an hour or an hour and a half: 60 to 70 mins of cardio exercise plus 10 mins or more of weights.

      My cardiologist has said my “target heart rate” should be 130 bmp. To reach that goal, I have to work out very hard. To sustain that rate is almost impossible, since fatigue sets in.

      Every few months, when exercising hard my heart rate spikes at a abnormal level: abnormal in the sense that the rate is considerably higher than is typical for me. The abnormal rate is not exceedingly high: say, I would normally expect about 110 bpm at a certain level of exertion, but the rate instead atypically shoots up to around 140. (Once, while jogging on the treadmill, I saw a spike of more than 200 bmp on my monitor. The head nurse -- all the staff at the gym are RNs -- said it must have been a problem with the monitor.) During these episodes, I feel nothing unusual: I would have no idea that my heart rate is abnormally high if I didn’t check my heart rate monitor.

      When this happens, I immediately stop exercising. Normally, my heart rate begins to fall immediately and quickly. But during these episodes, the heart rate jumps around a bit -- it even rises when I’m resting -- and stays abnormally high for up to 10 or 20 minutes.

      My cardiologist gave me a stress echo test, which was more or less normal. Then she put me on an “event monitor” for 30 days. Again, the results were negative. However, during those 30 days I didn’t experience an episode of tachycardia.

      My cardiologist had no advice other than “continue what you’re doing.”


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  • Posted


    New to forums.  A few days ago, I experienced the same thing for the first time.  I was on a staionary bike doing steady cardio at bmp of 155 for 40 mins.  About 18 mins in, I felt my heart rate jump high.  I checked both the bike monitor and my fit bit, which put my heart rate at 172.  I immediatley stopped and after a few seconds my heart rate began to drop. I started on the bike again but kept my heart rate down to about 140 for another 5 minutes before I decided to stop.  I have had episodes of slight heart palipataions (lasting from a few seconds to a few mins), that come every now and again.  I've had two stress tests done about 2 years apart (both negative) and echo's (which both showed trace mitral reg on both and a trace tri-someting reg on lastest one).  This incident has left me a little rattled and honestly I'm a bit anxious to try to do cardio again but I think I'm going to try the bike again today.  Also I am a 42 year old female with family history of heart disease and death (brother, 2 uncles, and grandfather died of heart failure/conjestive heart failure in 50's, first cousin had two pacemakers before she died suddenly also in her 50's).  Think I'm just being too anxious??

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