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Question:

Am I causing damage to my heart when I run?

I am a 53 year old woman that runs 3 or 4 times a week. My heart rate goes above my max heart rate when I run, sometimes over 170 bpm. Is this causing damage to my heart or is it OK? My blood pressure is increasing also. I am concerned because sometimes I feel pressure in my chest.

Submitted by Tammy from Edmond on 10/24/2013

The maximum heart rate that most people can achieve is 220 minus age or within a few points of that. Less than 5% of people have normal ranges that exceed this amount but for them it is a normal variant. There is a potential issue for people who have a constant heart rate elevation with a 24 hour average of greater than 100 beats per minute.

However, if there has been a recent change in your symptoms and especially if you are having chest pain, you should seek attention sooner rather than later. A cardiologist should evaluate you in person & will likely perform an echocardiogram, treadmill exercise test & possibly a 24 hour monitor. Hope this is helpful.