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Answers from the BJC Experts

Ask the BJC Expert allows you to get the answers you need about a variety of health, medicine and exercise issues to help you live a more healthy life.

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I know an overweight Hispanic male who lifts weights but does not do the incline bench press because it causes his heart rate to go up to 180. This person has diabetes and is on insulin. What would make his heart rate go up so high when doing inclines.

There are a few relatively common reasons that he may be experiencing elevated heart rates during incline presses. The most common type of abnormal heart rate increase (tachycardia) that people experience during exercise is supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). I’ve had several clients within the last decade with diagnosed SVT, and the symptoms are similar to what your patient is experiencing.

Generally speaking, only certain exercises bring on SVT symptoms, and those exercises differ from person to person, but they usually have one thing in common — they fail to breathe properly during those exercises (valsalva maneuver). If your acquaintance's tachycardia seems sudden (and reaches 180+bpm), lasts only a short period and then returns to normal rhythm, then this is your most likely case.

SVT is generally unpleasant but not life-threatening. If he starts to see an increase in the frequency of events, he should consult his physician.

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