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How low is TOO low???(6 posts)

How low is TOO low???Cheezhead
Jun 9, 2002 4:23 PM
Referring to resting heart rate? Is having a resting heartrate that is really low bad in any ways? Here's why I ask: about a year ago (back in my rowing days when I was in the best shape of my life) I was in the hospital and one morning the nurse took my heartrate just as I was waking up and it read 28. Thinking that couldn't be right, she did it again, and it was 32. Now I'm trying to get back into as good of shape as I was back then for cycling. My resting heartrate right now is around 44. Thing is, my girlfriend's mother (who is a nurse) told me that having a heartrate below 50 is bad because I could pass out and stuff. Is this true at all? Or is it ok for my resting heartrate to be sub-30? I kinda like it cuz it freaks out my friends ;)
Zero is too lowKerry
Jun 9, 2002 4:47 PM
You girlfriend's mother is right - you could pass out (don't know about the "and stuff"). But do you pass out? If not, and your low RHR is due to fitness, then no worries. Most endurance athletes will tell you that they feel a bit dizzy once in a while upon standing, but it is not a problem. Another point is that taking a hand pulse at very low rates can be quite unreliable - they're counting for 10 or 15 seconds and multiplying by 4 or 6. Also, is your 44 "first thing in the morning without getting out of bed"? If you are taking that number while sitting around, it could easily be 10-15 beats higher than the full rest number.
Jun 9, 2002 7:59 PM
Theres two reasons that this could be occuring:
1) your incredibly fit... (which it was) either that on EPO which is dropping your heart rate from having so many red blood cells (which it wasn't... you were just incedibly fit). I've heard stories of pro cyclists having to get up in the middle of the night when their HRM went off because their heart rate got so low (from drugs) and they were teetering on cardiac arrest. Not sure how true it is though.
2) a very poor diet... if you don't consume nearly enough calories and are fit enough your heart rate could easily be this low just through slowing down your metabolism. My resting hr in the fall was in the low 30's when I did far to many miles and didn't eat enough.
So having a resting heart rate that low is nothing bad! It shows you have the genetic capability at least in heart and lungs to probably be a world class cyclist.

Nick Corcoran
Not too low for an endurance atheletevitusdude
Jun 10, 2002 5:41 AM
Please don't be offended but your girlfriends mother is wrong. I've been riding 5000 plus miles a year for about 10 years and my resting pulse rate is in the mid 40s and I am not a racer. No medical professionals have said it is a problem. Pro cyclists often have a RPR in the low 30s. Your's is not unreasonable.
Old, non-athlete cardiology, I think.cory
Jun 10, 2002 7:34 AM
My resting rate was in the mid-30s for years. I have pretty bad genetics for heart disease, and every time I went to a new doctor they'd get all excited and run around doing tests and making me wear monitors and whatnot, but could never find anything wrong. I finally found a cardiologist who's also a marathon runner and cyclist. His judgment was that the average physician sees so many people in terrible shape that, out of caution, they were reading something into me that wasn't there.
from another forumDougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 8:04 AM
Heartbeats under 50 are clinically referred to as "sinus bradycardia".
Depending on the level of fitness, the average MD may consider it an abnormal
condition and follow it accordingly. For the high level athlete, however,
HR's lower than 50 are common. It is only when the heart rate drops below 35
that it becomes an issue. If the blood pressure is low and the heart rate
descends below 35, the likelihood of stroke increases as the HR decreases

If your HR is already low, increased exercise doesn't really impact it.
Resting HR has to do with the amount of energy and oxygen a body needs to
maintain itself. Its a self regulating thing.

In re: to your ears pounding... that's a function of the level of fluid in
the tissues in your neck and around your ears. You may know that sound
travels faster and better through a liquid medium. When you lay down the
weight of the tissue itself tends to follow gravity and compresses slightly.
Sometimes, its just enough to amplify the pulsing of the carotid artery
(located in the neck). This is the pounding you may hear especially if you
are wearing ear plugs or have your ear firmly against a pillow.

You must know that I'm not a doctor, I'm a respiratory therapist and
researcher. I can not give medical opinions or advice.