The recent letter about erratic pulse measurements (RW, May 04) seems related to this thread, and certainly struck a chord with me.
I too have often noticed erratic readings, and had put it down to interference from pylons, railway lines, electric gates etc. Except that it was happening at other times too - on the beach, in the woods - when there was no obvious source of interference. Then I started noticing my pulse speeding up when I wasn't exercising. I strapped my monitor on, and my pulse would be way over 100, when I wasn't doing anything, and would expect it to be 50-60. My pulse would be erratic, shooting up, and dropping down, but generally higher than normal. These 'episodes' would occur fairly infrequently (every few months or so), for no apparent reason, and would last a few minutes, or a couple of hours, then subside, leaving my pulse to gradually return to normal. Recently, they have been getting more frequent (2 or 3 times a week), and lasting for longer (up to 15 to 18 hours), including overnight. There is no pattern: I have stopped coffee; they occur at any time of day, though often late evening; regardless of exercise, alcohol, or food. In short, there is no discernable pattern. My GP referred me for a 24-hour ECG which was inconclusive, but the consultant has said it is probably 'paroximal (?) atrial fibrillation', which in itself is harmless, but I need to undergo more tests to see if there is an underlying reason which causes the condition, and could explain the increasing frequency. I am a 48-year old male, 5'10", weighing 11st, running regularly for 20 years. I don't smoke, and drink in moderation. My normal resting pulse is about 44. Is this condition common amongst runners? Is there a common underlying reason? Are there any things to do, or to avoid, to stop it becoming even more frequent?
Posted: 28/04/2004 at 10:57