Exercise Induced Tachycardia

Anyone have stress turn into anxiety and then manifest into extreme Hr during exercise? I have been checked out and have meds for it, but would like to here from others. Every once in a while I can’t manage it and need to stop riding. It’s made me dnf a couple races and is just an overall pain in the butt. Obviously, physiologically I don’t deal with stress normally, please chime in if you can relate.

I’ve experienced exercise induced tachycardia pretty much all my adult life. Now 50 yo. Mostly just annoying but finally saw a cardiologist this past summer and was diagnosed with atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia (AVNRT). Mostly harmless but at times highly annoying. I’ve noticed that it mostly affects me when I’m carrying a lot of exercise fatigue so I try to manage it that way. It could have been something more serious so pay attention to what your dr says.

1 Like

I went to a cardiologist and wore a monitor for a few days. He said I was fine. I was prescribed Proplananol (sp) to use when needed and it helps. What affects me is life stress, when I’m not training and I can get that anxious feeling my Hr is not elevated, but if I go workout with out the meds, it’ll run. Weird.

Check with a cardiologist to have the green light for exercise, and what type of exercise you should focus on.
I use a four frontier heart rate strap. It provides live alarms and ECG of the workout (and breathing rate.

I’ve occasionally had mild issues with this. I have a tendency towards generalized anxiety disorder, though have always held things in check so far through various measures so that it’s never seriously interfered with my functioning.

That being said, around the time we had our second child, when COVID was just starting and I was involved in organizing/developing our jurisdictional healthcare response to it, I was getting bad performance anxiety during FTP testing, and my heart rate would really spike early on, and I would underperform as a result. Had to basically convince myself to stop caring about numbers, and just ride, and then I got over it.

So yes, I have had issues with anxiety leading to a maladaptive increase in heart rate.

Quasi-related, but I’ve also noticed that my ability to tolerate long efforts near threshold is impacted by how well I’m keeping my anxiety in check in life as a whole. When I am starting to get anxious in life in general, my ability to hold efforts near threshold just plummets - I can’t stand the sensation of the effort on my body (the breathing and legs).

If I’m not careful, this then leads to a negative feedback loop where I start ruminating on how I’m underperforming in my training. I’ll dwell on it at night and then sleep poorly… making my subsequent performance drop even further.

I’d always thought this was interesting as abnormal brain-response to elevated blood lactate levels is known to be part of many anxiety disorders. For example: Response to lactate infusion in generalized anxiety disorder - PubMed.

Other than just getting on top of my anxiety again, I recently personally found that going back to weightlifting really helps with this anxiety-induced intolerance of threshold work. Whether thats something physiological on a muscle level, or more just that throwing heavy weights around makes you feel more in control in life and helps with the anxiety side.

While I’ve never had the exact problem as you, I wonder weather weight-lifting to help in your situation as well.

1 Like

Thanks for the responses. Hope we get more, makes me feel a little more normal, lol. I find it interesting that during times off stress with out exercise my Hr is normal, but the second there is an effort….bam! I had a race Saturday that I didn’t make it 500yds into the first lap before quitting. Hr at the line was 150, then rose to about 200. Pulled the plug. It can be frustrating.

Is it a different condition than ventricular tachycardia? Really annoying condition while exercising but it can be treated. I got it fixed finally about 6 months ago.

How has your experience with the Fourth Frontier monitor been overall? Do you use it to work with a cardiologist directly? Are you using their service for that or your own doc?

A littlebit of background.
I’m 46. Re-started cycling a bit more seriously after a 20 years stop.
I had some chest pain when i restarted so i went to see a doctor, but the pain was not related to the heart.
I’m coming from Belgium, and the club I was riding with 25 years ago had people over 40 do a heart test before being able to join.
I’m now in the US where the doctor approach was pretty different. After telling me that I had high cholesterol and I’m at risk of cardiovascular disease, he just told me to start cycling and go as hard as I can, max heartrate, no test needed… So I decided to monitor my heart myself and got the fourth frontier.
In my case I’m just using the continuous ECG function. I can see a few “events” when I ride. I checked them with my doctor and everything is fine. I just check now that it doesn’t evolve into something else.
I’m not really using the other functionalities. My reported HRV is always super low during exercise and does not provide any insights for my. Cardiac strain also doesn’t seem to work for me. Their insights on workout type is just totally wrong: they use average heartrate and breathing which doesn’t do well with intervals.
So, the product is not perfect and could improve a lot, but it provides me a peace of mind when riding, which is what I want.

I do this exact thing, also. Ended up switching to a more polarized approach for the past few months partly as a result. I don’t have issues with long Z2 rides (indoors or out) and the VO2 sessions are short enough that they weren’t too bad (relatively speaking).

1 Like

Yep I also notice Z2 and VO2 aren’t an issue when this is going on.

I suspect that if I ever can’t get things under control mentally, slowly building up set of 10-20min intervals from high tempo to SS to threshold intensities over a few weeks would probably break the conditioned response to threshold work and stop it from happening too.