Ectopic heart beats and heart rate when riding

I have been diagnosed with ectopic heart beats (ECG) recently when I brought up with my doctor my HIGH heart rate sometimes during bike rides.

Most of the time my heart rate follows a predictable path but when I really ride hard my heart rate can rise up to over 200. ( I am 66 years old) which is abnormal…I know I am working hard and it feels hard but if I couldn’t see my heart rate I would think all is right. I also recover quickly and will either recover slowly riding or recover completely if we stop. I don’t need to stop.
Some rides I will not see any evidence of these ectopic beats as my heart stays within the correct parameters.
On a hard rides (60-100km) my average heart rate will be often in the mid 130’s with a maximum heart rate in the 180’s.

Does anybody on these forums ride with ectopic heart beats? How does it effect you?

  1. Check your HR strap. They can sometimes give erroneous readings that look like a high HR

  2. The incidence of atrial fibrillation in endurance athletes is well documented. You should really see a cardiologist who is familiar with endurance sports and have the issue fully investigated

  3. If you wanted to learn ore you could try this book. It may give you some insight.

WOW the topics in that book look very scary…I have been very active all my life and was a competitive squash player and runner before taking up cycling so maybe I am a prime candidate for some of those conditions.

This is a recent ride where my heart rate behaved normally.

This is one where the odd behaviour occurred.

I am not a physician so take my opinions for what they are worth.

I have several friends who have developed palpitations and they have had full work ups by a cardiologist. Everything was fine but they felt much better getting everything checked out.

I have not read that book completely but I do believe the tittle and introduction is designed specifically to scare people into buying a copy. Not saying there is not good information in the book, just that it has good marketing too.

What region of the country do you live? Perhaps someone in the forum can recommend a cardiologist in your area.

Best of luck

I’ve had this recently but not whilst riding, making sure I took some extra electrolyte such as potassium and magnesium seemed to clear it up.

Previously I’ve had a heart condition which an ablation fixed so I’m always mindful of heart problems.

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I am a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm disorders. Suggestion #2 is spot on. A peak heart rate >200 bpm in someone over 60 is highly unusual (assuming HR monitor is correct).

@Skulbow I am NOT a physician but have had a full workup on my heart due to ectopic beats. I have both pre ventricular and pre atrial beats. I also have low haemoglobin and some valve leakage. All of my cardiologists (after ultrasounds and MRI) have said that my workouts are not an issue and the ectopic beats we’re likely linked to stress and almost everyone has some ectopic beats at one pint or another.

I keep an eye on it and I take resting hr and hrv every morning for the last five years. Every six months I have an cardiac ultrasound. My hr has gone through the roof on a couple of occasions (above 200) and I’m 53 years old. It seems random when it does as I can go hard and put out high watts and my hr won’t go haywire but then I will be doing something less intense and it will go high. Usually if I let up a bit if will settle down almost immediately and that’s what I was advised; to just watch it and control via changing intensity if it happens.

I have found that I almost have never ectopic beats (that I can feel anyway) while I’m working out. They are usually at rest and weirdly enough when I am not training.

I have found (as per the remineralize your heart book) that taking magnesium has certainly “seemed” to tam down the duration and how often I have can ctooic beats that I can feel. Since starting on magnesium, after about the first six months I rarely seem to notice them unless I haven’t had good sleep patterns. I take both mag threonate and mag citrate once in the morning and again before bed and both times with food.

That’s a short version of my experience with ectopic beats and training FWIW

Thanks for all the advice…appreciated.

Over the last ten years I have had stress tests and nothing untoward has been observed. My ectopic heart beats definitely get worse with stress…

Thankyou @Lawrence…I might look at magnesium supplements because I have heard a lot about the benefits for better sleep and muscle recovery.

Here is a picture of my latest workout…!


You can see the rough pattern of the heart rate and the spike over 180.

Interesting about the Mag. My son has this problem. I think I’ll try suplimenting him and see what happens. Thanks.

I’m 35 and started cycling around 31. Around 2 years ago I started getting heart palpitations and visited a cardiologist. What was found were pre ventricular contractions and also noted that I had a high heart rate during the stress test - around 200. The doctor was more impressed that I could reach that high number rather than be concerned about it. I’ve been on/off the bike for the last year but I’ve found that sleep plays a big role in feeling the PVCs. I’ve also tried zinc-magnesium-vitamin d supplements but I could not feel any effect.

AF and Sinus Rhythm with ectopic beats are very different.

OP - if you have been investigated fully and diagnosed without finding an abnormal rhythm then it may be best to lose the HR strap altogether so that you aren’t worried by the numbers.


Ectopic beats are abnormal heartbeats, which arise from either the top or the bottom chambers of the heart, and these are not your natural pacemaker beats of the heart, so, for example, in a typical 24-hour period, your natural pacemaker generally gives you 100,000 heartbeats in that time period.

Now we would say that ectopic beats that arise from other sites may occur, 50 to say 400 times in that 100,000 cycle, which occurs over a 24-hour period. Now ectopic beats can be felt by patients as palpitations and, for example, the major symptom of an ectopic beat.

Is an extra heartbeat or a skipped heartbeat, and that’s when you feel your heart lurching or when you feel an extra strong heartbeat that only occurs momentarily more rarely.

You get ectopic beats that occur in quick succession, and this would be something like this. Where you have one ectopic beat one normal beat one atopic beat or where you have their topic beats that go maybe four five or six times and then stops and then perhaps two minutes later you get another flurry of ectopic beats that lasts five or six beats And this can be very disconcerting for you and can be the nature of your palpitations. Read here treatment of ectopic beats.