Heart Palpatations & Running

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05/11/2002 at 13:22
Lately, I have woken in the night with my heart racing. This has been happening once or twice a week, sometimes lasting an hour, leaving me a bit light headed and feeling sick. I've ruled out too much caffeine, and wonder if anyone has experienced similar symptons? On most (but not all) occasions I have had a hard running training session the previous evening, but don't know if this is a pure coincidence. My heart rate is fine running. I'm a bit stressed at work, but nothing out of the ordinary. Any thoughts??
05/11/2002 at 13:45
Make an appointment with your GP and get it checked out. Do it today.

Its probably nothing to worry about, but its not something you should treat lightly.

05/11/2002 at 20:23
I have suffered from an irregular heartbeat for a number of years and recently a new irregularity has appeared i.e. instead of the regular. . . . . . beat it becomes a regular .. .. .. .. .. Doesn't seem to affect me physically but is a bit alarming mentally. I also have been told to keep off caffeine and fags but have never used either of them. It does seem to be worse after a training run or exertion and sometimes after a night out when I have exerted myself to be bright and breezy with chat (but can't blame alcohol because I usually have to drive) Currently I am logging my `attacks' along with my activities to see what comes out of it. I have now got it down to the possibility of 1. Exertion 2. Adrenalin 3. Profuse sweating and therefore loss of potassium 4. Maybe stress but not usually my scene. I run well inside Fit for Age marathon times and I have not suffered breathlessness etc. I may visit the quack when I can offer some sensible ideas. Keep talking about it - perhaps it is a common phenomena.
06/11/2002 at 08:28
I didn't want to spell this out because I don't believe in alarming unecessarily, but here it is:-

One of the top fell runners in this country recently died as a result of a heart problem he didn't even know he had. This was a guy who could run a marathon in under 3 hours off road with 9,000 feet of climbing in it. He was like .....fit.

For what its worth my view is that if your heart is playing funny tunes its trying to tell you something. Yes perhaps its only "lay off the coffee/booze/fags" or somesuch. On the other hand perhaps its trying to tell you that a wheel's coming off.

It takes 30 minutes out of your life to get it checked out by your GP......

Hey Vrap - you're the tame(ish) Doc round here whadya say ??

06/11/2002 at 08:39
Simon - I now have an appointment for tomorrow to see my GP. As you say, it is probably nothing, but worth checking out. Thanks for the advice....will advise outcome if anyone is interested! Pussy - I wondered about the adrenalin factor. Oh well, I'll see what she says tomorrow.
06/11/2002 at 11:07
Yes, do tell us how you get on NB, and well done for not ignoring it!
06/11/2002 at 11:40
N Blonde ... If your Doc tries to fob you off or he doesn't put your mind at rest, insist on seeing a heart specialist, cry if you have to ... I'm serious, GP's aren't always supportive !!!!!

I suffered with an irregular heart beat for months without seeing anyone. I eventually saw a specialist and he told me how common irregular heart rythums are and that mine was prob down to stress and worry, the more I worried about my heart the worse the prob got !!!

I was given a 48 hr ECG so they could monitor my heart over a period of time which enabled him to tell what would trigger of an episode, he also offered me tablets which i refused.

I was told my heart was healthy and I had nothing to wory about, and within days of having that reasurrance the irregular rythum started to subside.

Do you wear a heart monitor when running ?? get one .... they are brilliant for making sure you don't excerice out of your heart rate limit.


Also don't let simons story alarm you ... lets face it ... you could get knocked down and killed by a bus on the way to the docs !!!!!
06/11/2002 at 11:42
PS... good luck with the doctor ... let us know how you get on !!!
06/11/2002 at 12:23
Heart rate monitor (in bed!)is good idea if only to reassure yourself and give your dr useful information:

circa 100: faster than you might expect at rest - recent xs exercise (including effects of adrenaline), stress, caffeine, alcohol, fags etc

100-120: ditto

late 130s+ - 140+ perhaps I should be going to A&E to get this on record


I would guess commonest cause of irregular heartbeat in this readership would be:

a)sinus arrythmia - awareness of the normal beat to beat variation with respiration - more the youngsters

and b)exercise-related ventricular ectopic beats -heart skips a beat the a big one steps in after a pause - again possibly exacerbated by stress and the other factors but usually quite innocent

Both fast heart beats and irregular heart beats can't really be fully evaluated without said 48hr tape - so I agree don't get fobbed off

Waiting till next routine appointement is usually ok - unless you're having funny heart beat at the time



06/11/2002 at 12:26
Julie, thanks for your helpful message - I'll bear it in mind tomorrow. Hopefully I won't be fobbed off, or have to resort to tears!

I don't currently run with an HRM, but have been thinking about it of late. Can you recommend a model? May have to drop subtle hints to my sons, what with Christmas coming up and all.

Let u know how it goes......NB
06/11/2002 at 12:42
Natural Blonde - Hi

I have in the past suffered from this type of reaction. In my case it was entirely stress related. Stress is a very funny thing and can effect everybody in different ways, for example the nighttime racing heart was how mine started. Once I knew it was stress, (thanks to good GP) I then used to get muscle spasms in my back instead which have now moved to cramps in my calves!

I guess it's got to come out somewhere eh? You might like to try one of the herbal stress relievers like Kalms before you go to bed and see how you get on.

Best of luck at the docs, hope you don't get fobbed off.
06/11/2002 at 13:54
There are so many heart rate monitors on the market ... and they range dramatically in price too .... have a look on the web ... there are lots of sites and will be cheaper than going to a shop too !!
06/11/2002 at 16:41
Clearly nuts - Thanks for info. In your case, were you aware of how stressed you were? What I am getting at is that I don't THINK I'm stressed, but could I be sub-concsiously if you know what i mean! NB

Space-Monkey - When my heart is racing, it is going so fast I can't count it. I'm surprised it can go so fast for so long. At least an HRM would give me facts. Ta NB
07/11/2002 at 09:52
Well, I've been to the Docs, and she was a star. Although she thinks it's nothing sinister, I'm to go back for a raft of blood tests (apparently a thyroid imbalance can trigger palpitations, as can anaemia), plus an ECG. If they turn up nothing, I am to have a longer spell of ECG monitoring. If that is clear, and I am still symptomatic, I can be referred to a cardiologist. How thorough is that! I was really pleased. Also, it goes to show how running pays off, 'cos apparently I have better Blood Pressure than a 21 yr old, and an impressive resting heart rate of 49. In fact, she congratulated me on my fitness (not bad for a 40 something!). She did say, too, that sometimes these things happen and there is no explanation at all - but at least I will have had my mind put at rest. will keep u posted..... NB
07/11/2002 at 11:04
Natural Blonde - Hi

No I wasn't aware of exactly how stressed I was at the time, I had managed to suppress the outward signs quite nicely and felt that I was dealing with it OK. Does your brain race at the same time as your heart, life flashing before you? this may also indicate that it is stress or something similar?

Sounds like a good GP, hope nothing nasty turns up in the tests, best of luck.
07/11/2002 at 11:54
Natural Blonde - Hello - I have this similar condition, normally occurring at night when you're resting - sometimes extra electrical connections on your heart (nodes) can fire up and start the arythmia. My case was I had an echosound taken of my heart and it showed a mitral valve prolapse (lots of people have them) and basically the quacks have said even really fit people commonly have ectopic beats and periods of arythmia. It is disturbing and it can feel as if your heart wants to bang its way out of your chest however, in my case they say nothing to worry about. There is a very slight risk that if the irregular beat goes on for a while because you aren't clearing the chambers in your heart of all the blood it can cause a clot to form and pelt off around the body when you snap back into regular rythm. As a result I take the 75mg mini aspirin daily to reduce the chance of clotting still further. I have also found that you are better off turning up at A&E saying your heart is wonky and they see you right away and have cardio speciailists about as the average GP doesn't necessarily specialise in this. All in all you've done the best thing to get checked out - but worry and anxiety when you get the spells of palpitations can prolonge the episode (difficult not to be though!) I am back to running and not worrying about it! One more thing a heart rate monitor doesnt work well when you get irregular beats - esp if it is atril fibrillation because the electric signals don't trigger the monitor....KEEP WELL!
07/11/2002 at 13:22
Glad to hear your Doc looked after you well.
Good luck with all the test and congratulations on being so fit !!
When the palpatations get really bad, i find holding my breath and putting natral pressure on your chests help to bring your heart rate down a bit !!!!
07/11/2002 at 17:33
Darth Lardy - Hi to u too. That was interesting - thanks for the info. I'm glad you got sorted out. It is comforting to know I am not alone!!

Julia, thanks for the tip. I tried laying on the floor and raising my legs above the level of my heart but that didn't work! I also tried to slow my breathing down, again to no avail. At least I've got something else to try next time....NB
07/11/2002 at 17:41
NB,good luck and hope it turns out OK.
About 7/8 years ago (before I started running)I went through a spell of several months of having bad palpitations especially in the night. I remember waking up many many times with rediculously pounding heart and associated anguish. Being scared of doctors as I am I put off going for some time but eventually recognised that I needed to sort the problem out. Went to see the doctor who checked me out and began telling me a story (which I do not know to this day whether it was true) that Linford Christie was reknowned for having a very irregular heartbeat and basically there was nothing wrong with me. Funnily enough after receiving this reassurance they disappeared. I did not consider myself stressed at the time but it is not always apparent to you and the reality in my case was that I had worked myself into some kind of negative spiral whereby I had convinced myself that I was ill and therefore I was. Anyway, here we are 6/7 years later and having just completed my first marathon last week although funnily enough last night I woke up with palpitations...I think that was something to do with the volume of chinese and alcohol I had last night (always a bad mixture for me that one!)
08/11/2002 at 10:07
Hi Ian, That's reassuring - thanks. Well done on your first Marathon. I'm contemplating doing one next year - what was it like? NB
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