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Chest pain, increased heartbeat rate

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Cardiologist, Interventional
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 424 Questions
Heart Rate Increases Too Fast :

I am fairly deconditioned and sedentary, a retired person in his mid 50s who works at a computer a lot. A few years ago, I was able to exercise on a elliptical trainer for 15 or 20 minutes a day. Sometimes with a few rests, because I am trying to keep my heart rate around 140 or 145 during exercise (a rate that is recommended for my age).

Now I am trying to get back into some exercising, but I am worried that my heart rate accelerates very rapidly. When I get on the elliptical, my heart rate goes up to 140 bpm within 60 or 90 seconds. Even with pausing, it's difficult for me to do more than 3 or 4 minutes if I want to keep my rate below 150. This seems strange. I am not feeling any kind of chest pains or odd feelings in my chest or arms, but in such a short time I am not even getting out of breath. I don't feel exhausted, my heart just seems to go too fast.

One morning, when I got on the elliptical, my heart rate showed up as 150 after just 30 seconds, so I visited my doctor. He put me on 25 mg of beta blocker, a low dose. I had a stress echo cardiogram test which came out normal (up to 160 bpm on their treadmill). So they can't find anything major wrong. But I still feel like I cannot start exercising when my heart rate zooms up to such high rates just doing brief mild exercise.
Posted Tue, 1 May 2012 in Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders
Answered by Dr. Prabhakar C Koregol 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.
I would like to reassure you that at present, you have nothing to be worried about. Presently, you need acclimatisation and training. The increase in heart rate is only because of deconditioning. I would suggest that you train yourself at constant speed for prolonged periods on a tread mill preferably instead of an elliptical cycle (atleast in the initial period) and try and increase incline rather than speed. If your test results are normal, you should not be receiving beta blockers right now. Additionally, I would also suggest that you get your thyroid function tested. This would be done by measuring the Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and free thyroxine (FT4) levels.
As long as you are not symptomatic, you don’t need to worry about absolute magnitude of your heart rate and if you feel comfortable, you should continue working out and you would notice that the further increase in heart rate would be very small.
I hope I have answered your query. Please accept my answer if you have no further queries.

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