An irregular heart rate, or arrhythmia, can be caused by many different factors. These include smoking, too much caffeine and coronary artery disease. Experiencing an irregular heart rate only during or after exercise may be a sign of a very specific and life-threatening problem: catecholarminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT).
Symptoms of Irregular Heart Rate
The general symptoms of irregular heart rate include pounding in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, simple chest discomfort, fatigue and palpitations. Some people may be suffering from an irregular heart rate and not even know it. An echocardiogram, or ECG, can find out for sure whether or not someone suffering from some or all of these symptoms is experiencing an irregular heart rate.
If someone only suffers from the symptoms of irregular heart rate after exercise, an echocardiogram may not be able to detect the problem. If this is the case, an exercise stress test may be needed to diagnose irregular heart rate and its possible cause.
Exercise and CPVT
CPVT is a genetically based heart condition where mutations in the ryanodine receptor, a cardiac protein, causes problems with the regulation of calcium. An increase in calcium in the heart causes an irregular heart rate, a problem that can be deadly.
People with CPVT have normal heart rates when at rest. When epinephrine and other catecholamines produced by the body during exercise or stress encounter the heart of a person with this protein mutation, however, it causes a sudden irregular heart rate. This condition is so serious that exercise can cause sudden death for someone with CPVT.
If someone experiences an irregular heart rate after exercise, he will need an exercise stress test to detect the problem. During an exercise stress test, the subject is put on a treadmill and hooked up to equipment to monitor the heart. The subject begins walking on the treadmill, and the speed is gradually increased. The incline of the treadmill will also be increased to provide extra stress on the subject. The heart rate is monitored after the stress test and blood pressure is also taken.
The most common medicines used in the treatment of CPVT are beta blockers. Beta blockers are commonly associated with the treatment of heart conditions and performance anxiety. They counteract the effects of catecholamines released during exercise or under stress on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Irregular Heart Rate
An irregular heart rate after exercise could be a sign of other heart conditions. A imbalance of electrolytes such as potassium or sodium could cause an irregular heart rate after exercise. Excessive smoking or caffeine consumption could also cause a postexercise arrhythmia. Also, exercise is a form of stress, and excessive exercise can cause in irregular heart rate.