Pushing your heart too hard during exercise

Q: I am taking medication to lower my blood pressure and prevent auricular fibrillation. Usually my blood pressure is 110 – 140 sys and 65 – 69 dys pulse rate <60. I take regular exercise three times a week at the gym. Usually my pulse rate does not reach more than 115 during rowing, cycling or any other exercise of that sort. However when I run (younger people would say jog – I am 76 years old) my pulse will suddenly zoom up to 180 to 190 and will return almost immediately to >100 if I stop. If I keep going it will remain at this high rate but drop slightly. I do not have any pains or any other symptoms and feel good if I continue. Is this OK.

A: I don’t think it is wise to push your heart that hard. You have a condition known as atrial fibrillation where your heart beats too fast. This is the most common irregular heartbeat. It is possible when you jog, the medicine you take is not able to keep your heart from beating irregularly. Atrial fibrillation increases your chance of having a stroke. You might need to have your heart rhythm monitored while you are jogging to see exactly what is going on. You should discuss this further with your doctor.

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