Why is my heart so audible?
May 4, 2010 5:00 AM   Subscribe

Why does my heart, at rest, feel like it's about to jump out of my chest?

I've been exercising regularly for a year now; religiously running 5K three times a week and doing upper body weight training. A side effect of this is that my heart beat is so strong that I can, at rest, almost hear it.

When I'm in a quiet place, e.g. coding alone at night or watching TV, it can actually become distracting it's that loud. Sometimes I can feel it pulsating in my hands and chest.

I have experienced no ill health otherwise, so I'm not sure if it's something I should get looked at. I do know however, if I don't exercise, it doesn't happen.

Does anybody have any experience with this?
posted by gadha to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have the same thing. I don't know why it happens but I went to a cardiologist about it and they had me wear a heart monitor for 24 hours. When I returned the monitor and the data were analyzed they said that my heart was normal. They told me that some people just have weird beat patterns, occasional missed or double beats, racing and slowing -- or, apparently, really hard beating.

Bottom line: I don't know why this happens to me, but apparently it's nothing to worry about.

That being said - check yourself to make sure that your situation is not something different than mine.
posted by crapples at 5:11 AM on May 4, 2010

My mother has similar sensations when she's having heart palpitations. This is definitely something you should see a doctor for.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:23 AM on May 4, 2010

Definitely see a doctor. Don't work out until you do.

Are you taking any medications?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:46 AM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: No meds, no ill effects after or before exercise.
posted by gadha at 5:57 AM on May 4, 2010

no ill effects after or before exercise

If it's causing palpitations, it's causing "ill effects." Seriously, stop it until you consult a doctor.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:09 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anxiety related?
posted by xm at 6:28 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

definitely see a doctor. it could be hormonal (thyroid disease, for example), related to heart health. not worth "waiting it out."
posted by anya32 at 6:36 AM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: OK I'll go see a doctor
posted by gadha at 7:00 AM on May 4, 2010

IANAD, but if I was one, I'd recommend that you get your potassium level checked to rule out low potassium, which can cause all sorts of odd heart rhythms.
posted by chez shoes at 8:17 AM on May 4, 2010

One piece of advice: When you feel your heart beating hard, take you pulse. Knowing whether your heart rate is abnormal during these episodes may be useful information for your doctor. That said, I would predict this complaint is benign. Don't devote too much anxiety too it. Palpitations are very common and, in otherwise healthy people, usually meaningless.
posted by reren at 9:35 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

IANAD. That said, I would see a doctor just to rule out something Really Really Wrong, but chances are that you just have one of the benign but abnormal heart conditions that are commonly found in people who are in good physical condition.

Exercise causes the heart to adapt in ways that can be alarming if you aren't used to them, including sinus arrhythmia. This is what I suspect is going on. Super-common in athletes and in young people. What usually happens is called "respiratory sinus arrhythmia," which means that the heart rate fluctuates with breathing. Palpitations are usually a symptom of some form of arrhythmia. I'm totally healthy and my heart is A-OK according to my doctors, but I have a sinus arrhythmia.

So, yeah. Go see a doctor for sure, but don't freak out. Training can produce a lot of benign symptoms that, in a different context, can be indicators of heart disease: sinus arrhythmia, enlargement of the heart, slowed heartbeat, atrioventricular block, and incomplete right bundle branch block. Chances are that when you go to the doctor, some of these terms may be thrown around. Don't worry unless and until you are told to be worried. (But I wouldn't go do speedwork with these symptoms until I went to the doctor.)
posted by kataclysm at 10:10 AM on May 4, 2010

I dunno. Go to the doctor if it's freaking you out, I guess, but this happens to me too, and I'm highly allergic to physical exercise of any sort. It tends to happen when I'm being particularly mindful: closing my eyes, relaxing my muscles, focusing on the breathing of my lungs, the movement of blood through my body. I'm a healthy (as far as I know) young person.

uh, if you find out this is a symptom of some scary life-threatening issue, let us know eh? :)
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:57 AM on May 4, 2010

Pile-onFilter: Your heart is telling you to see a doctor. It may be nothing, but if it's something, it would be better to know. Years ago, doc told me my heart palpitations were nuthin. They got worse, and became somethin. Manageable, but knowing means I have a Plan.
posted by theora55 at 3:57 PM on May 4, 2010

uh, if you find out this is a symptom of some scary life-threatening issue, let us know eh? :)

Oh, there's a bunch. Here you go.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:22 PM on May 4, 2010

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