What causes my rapid heartbeat?
February 5, 2009 3:46 PM   Subscribe

What causes my rapid heartbeat?

For as long as I can remember, my heart rate jumps up very quickly when I do even the lightest of activities.

My normal heartbeat is about 70ish a minute rested. I would climb a flight of stairs and my heartbeat would be in the hundreds.
I am by no means exhausted, out of breath, or physically stressed.

Or a brisk walk would send it to 120-130 a minute within the first 5 minutes. As I mentioned before, I'm not physically stressed at all and I could keep up that pace for hours.

I'm not worried about this but I'm just curious if anybody has the same thing or has any ideas what causes this.

I am a 30 years old male, normal body weight, and I walk for an hour a day as my exercise.
posted by 7life to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
It's great that you walk for an hour a day but climbing up a flight of stairs and going from a resting pulse of 70 to a three digit pulse just sounds like you're a little out of shape. Likewise your pulse going up to 120/130 in a brisk walk. The thing is that you should be able to keep up an activity at about 120 for quite a while, it's not that heavy, indeed you haven't even doubled your pulse. IANAD so you might actually want to get this checked out, but from what you describe it just sounds like you need to do more vigorous athletic activity.
posted by ob at 3:56 PM on February 5, 2009

Low blood pressure? Dehydration? Caffeine? Nicotine? Medication or non-prescription drugs? Inherited trait? Heart condition you're not aware of? There are so many possibilities, you really should check with your doctor and get your blood pressure tested and a blood workup done.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:59 PM on February 5, 2009

I think you've got things confused. If your heartrate didn't kick up to "triple digits" at the first sign of activity, I'd expect there was something wrong, or you were dead.

The rule of thumb is, 220-your age is your "maximum" heart rate. Do not exceed. 60-70% of that is the target heart rate for weight loss. Sounds just about right.

For reference, I'm 34, 5'10", 180. I ride my bike a lot, and run a fair bit. My average heart rate for the ride I just got done with was 147, with a high of 170. Within 30 seconds of starting, my rest pulse of 60 is up to 110.
posted by notsnot at 4:20 PM on February 5, 2009

"The rule of thumb is, 220-your age is your "maximum" heart rate."

This is garbage.
posted by tiburon at 4:34 PM on February 5, 2009

This is completely, entirely normal for someone at your fitness level. I run a fair amount and have measured HR < 60 during particularly boring meetings. Just walking to the treadmill gets my pulse up to 110; once I get started it's only a few minutes before I'm within 10% of the maximum for that session.

Interpreting Maximum Heart Rate as a "Do not exceed" number is backwards. HRmax is the number which it is impossible for you to exceed under normal conditions.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:06 PM on February 5, 2009

Have you had your iron checked lately? I've always found increased heart rate to be a good indicator of when I'm getting anemic.

If you offer to donate blood, they'll do a hemoglobin count for free.
posted by aquafortis at 6:03 PM on February 5, 2009

Are you on any medications? When I was on Bupropion (generic Welbutrin) it made my heart speed up quite a bit (it was, in fact, too fast for me to donate blood).
posted by NoraReed at 7:21 PM on February 5, 2009

I'm not understanding the suggested possible problems - what do you think OP's numbers for these scenarios should be? A resting HR of 70 and 120-130 under brisk activity are so squarely in the realm of normal that they're diagnostically irrelevant without further information. Lacking a baseline to compare it to, these heart rates could just as well be indicative of being depressed from his physiological norm rather than elevated. It feels like everyone's trying to diagnose why someone's blood pressure is 115 / 70.
posted by 0xFCAF at 7:39 PM on February 5, 2009

tiburon: ""The rule of thumb is, 220-your age is your "maximum" heart rate."

This is garbage.

Helpful, you. It's a rule of thumb, not a mandate from Congress. I regularly exceed that number for tiny bursts. But as a basis number from which to figure other things, it's pretty useful. Christ.
posted by notsnot at 8:39 PM on February 5, 2009

220 minus your age was tossed long ago, he/she was right - though indelicate.
posted by rotifer at 11:04 PM on February 5, 2009

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