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Yes, I know what I’m doing. I’m comparing someone to Michael Jordan, and in doing so I’m committing the most sinful act that a sports fan could, right? I understand that a lot of you are reading this angrily, only here to rage at the random sportswriter with no ball knowledge that chose to ruin your day with this seemingly ludicrous headline.

Just hear me out though, because for starters, Mark Allen never played basketball.

I mean I’m sure he’s shot a few hoops over the course of his lifetime, but he’s never been remotely close to the NBA. Still, I will stand by my assertion, because the dominance of Michael Jordan is historical, seemingly untouchable, and so we must recognize and celebrate this elite level of performance when we see it elsewhere.

So, who is Mark Allen?

Mark Allen is quite literally the Greatest Athlete of All Time. No, really, this isn’t any unofficial label offered through casual fan discussions and the like. This was a title awarded to the great man after ESPN conducted a massive poll of its users in 2012.

But how did he get there? Born in Glendale, California in January 1958, Mark Allen grew up training as a swimmer. Reaching college age he attended UC San Diego, and in his time as a collegiate athlete Allen was even named an ‘All American’ swimmer. These high standards were simply not enough though, and in Allen’s own words he was “a very mediocre swimmer, and I knew I was never going to be one of the best at it.”

Fortunately for him, on one chilly morning in February 1982, a 24 year old Mark Allen sat before the Wide World of Sports programming to hear about something called the Ironman. For those of you that don’t know what the Ironman is, it is considered one of the most difficult one-day sports, including a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon run to finish.

An unmatched test of endurance, Allen learned that finishing the race wasn’t enough – you had to do it in 17 hours to earn the title of ‘Ironman’. This shocking fact stuck with Allen for weeks, but soon his disbelief was replaced by an unfettered determination. He had to become an Ironman.

10 months later the annual Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii was under way, and speeding through the first moments of the swim was Mark Allen himself. Competing with only a few months’ training was an achievement in and of itself, but as Allen heaved his body from the water he rose to the monumental news that he’d been on the tail of the leader throughout. The leader in question was a man named Dave Scott who had been setting the standard in endurance racing at the time. Pushing himself harder Allen was able to catch up to Scott during the cycling leg of the race, and actually had a small chat with him. Allen describes the moment saying, “I pulled up next to him and I go ‘Hey Dave, when we’re done with the bike ride, you wanna go for a run?’ And he looks at me like I was an idiot, right.”

Not too long after their conversation Allen’s bike broke down and that was the end of his first race. A first race that he thought would be his only. Yet, in this seemingly trivial encounter Allen’s dream was born. “I’d just been tailing the best guy in the world for several hours, so I thought maybe, just maybe, if I’m smart with my training, if I take time to gain experience, that someday I could become a champion of this amazing race myself.”

Successful Early Days

Now that you’re fully acquainted with Mark Allen, back to the Michael Jordan comparison, because their narratives mimic one another beyond just the achievements. Both athletes started their professional careers in the early 80’s, very quickly showcasing their competitive prowess as newcomers to the sport.

Even though the entire basketball world knew of Michael Jordan before he joined the NBA, he impressed beyond the lofty expectations, scoring the most points in the league in his rookie season. By his third season he was statistically dominating the league, having the highest points per game, the highest box +/- score, and the highest win share rating. Still, these successful early days never saw Jordan and the Bulls past the first round of the playoffs, leaving the NBA Championship well out of reach.

Unlike with Jordan, when Mark Allen jumped into the water in Kona for the 1982 Ironman Championship, he was relatively unknown. No expectations from the world, Allen made waves in his impressive debut race by outperforming numerous veterans of the sport (until his bike’s mechanical failure ended the race for him). Determined to become a champion after a brilliant first attempt, Allen showed he was the real deal as he competed in 5 of the next 6 Ironman Championships, never finishing lower than 5th. Much like Jordan, Mark Allen’s entrance into the world of Endurance Athletics hinted at the emergence of a superstar, but the final pieces hadn’t come together just yet.

The Detroit Pistons / Dave Scott roadblock

3 seasons, 3 First Round Playoff exits for MJ. By the 87/88 season he was one of the best players in the league, winning his first regular season MVP, and leading the bulls to Eastern Conference Playoff Semis. Here began one of the most famous sporting rivalries in history.

In that series they faced the ‘Bad Boy’ Detroit Pistons, a team known for their aggressive game, and what later became known as their ‘Jordan rules’ tactic that involved targeting the shooting guard. That first encounter ended 4-1 in favor of the Pistons, ending Jordan’s furthest playoff run till that point.

Next season, same matchup, except this time it was the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls went 2-1 up and an NBA Finals dream was born, but the team collapsed, losing their next 3 games and a Finals berth. To rub salt in their wounds the Pistons then won the Finals, taking home the Championship for the first time in franchise history. Next year, same round, same situation. One step closer, as Jordan’s Bulls took the Pistons to Game 7, but not close enough, as once again the Pistons beat not only them, but also the Trail Blazers to win a second Championship on the bounce.

The ‘Bad Boy’ Piston of Mark Allen’s life was Dave Scott. Yes, the same Dave Scott from his first race. As mentioned earlier, Allen competed in 5 of the 6 Ironman World Championships after his 1982 debut, always excelling but falling short of victory. Dave Scott competed in 4 of those 6 Championships and won every single one of them. So, almost every time Mark Allen completed this arduous challenge, there was one man he saw sitting atop the podium, and this was a man he’d competed fiercely with as a novice.

This rivalry truly solidified itself by the ‘86 World Championship (WC). At the time Dave Scott’s previous race brought the WC record down to below 9 hours, an unthinkable feat given it had been over 11 hours just 5 years prior. Mark Allen himself was starting to gain experience having achieved a podium finish within his first 3 attempts at the race. The ’86 WC saw Mark Allen break Scott’s world record timing, indicating the steep progress he’d made, but even so he could not taste gold, because Scott also broke the record and beat Allen to top spot. It was a historic race exemplifying a historic rivalry. The ’87 WC did not see the record beat once again, but a familiar visual of Scott at 1st and Allen at 2nd had repeated itself.

Achieving GOAT Status

After 3 years of successive losses, Jordan’s Bulls met the Pistons again in the ’91 Eastern Conference Finals. Two series wins away from a three-peat, this seemingly immovable force was swept away completely by Jordan’s team. A 4-0 victory in the series signaled a shift in the tide, one that came to fruition as the Bulls went on to win their first NBA Championship in franchise history right after.

Thus ended the Pistons phase, and began a streak that we will likely never see again. That was Michael Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, and in it he earned his first Finals MVP. What followed is what the farmers call kidding, because the world saw the birth of a GOAT. The ’91 Championship and Finals MVP double was followed by two more Championship and Finals MVP Doubles, as Jordan and the Bulls achieved what their biggest opponent could not – a Three-peat. A Championship three-peat is rare, but a Finals MVP three-peat is near impossible. Only Magic Johnson had even won 3 Finals MVP’s at that point, and Jordan did it in consecutive years.

As if that were enough. Because post retiring for a season and a half due to personal reasons, Jordan came back in his first full season since ‘93 to restart that same elite cycle. 2 years away from the Finals, the Bulls were dragged back to them by Jordan in ’96 where he won his 4th Championship and Finals MVP double. Everybody must’ve thought he can’t possible do it again, but what does Jordan love more than proving everyone wrong. Two more Championships followed in ’97 and ’98, and with them two more Finals MVP’s.

Between the ’91 and ’98 seasons Michael Jordan played 6 full seasons. In 4 of those 6 seasons he won the regular season MVP. In all of those 6 seasons he won the NBA Championship. And in those 6 NBA Finals he was the Most Valuable Player each and every single time. That is what only a GOAT can do. That is dominance like no one had seen before.

But guess what, Michael Jordan cemented this legacy in 1998. Mark Allen on the other hand raced in his last Ironman World Championship in 1995, achieving almost exactly what Jordan did, just 3 years prior.

Mark’s GOAT story starts at the 1989 Ironman World Championships. Labelled the ‘Iron War’, this battle between Allen and Scott is considered one of the greatest races to have ever been raced. Finding each other at the start of the swim the two raced neck and neck for almost the entirety of the Ironman, competing beside each other in complete silence for over 8 hours.

“I’d seen 6 times that I did not know how to pace this race” Mark remembers, “He [Scott] had won the race 6 times coming into it, he clearly knew how to pace it. So, in 89 I stayed with him the entire way on the swim, I stayed with him on the bike ride, I shadowed him the whole way. He was setting a pace that was absolutely blistering, but it was clear that neither of us was able to do anything to break the other.”

Then came mile 24 of 26.2 in the marathon leg of the Ironman. Allen burst forward – as much as one can at the end of an 8 hour endurance race – and Scott was left with no response. Mark ended the race exactly 59 seconds before Scott, an almost negligible difference in a race that can take 17 hours. Dave Scott beat the World Championship record that he himself set by 18m24s, and still fell short to Allen. Both athletes pushed the limit bringing true sporting excellence to the fore, inscribing this race into the history of endurance athletics.

Much like Jordan’s victory over the Pistons, a baton had been passed. In both situations the turning of the tide was the last time these competitors faced each other, with Jordan/Allen taking over the mantle of GOAT in the years that followed.

Between the years 1988-1990 Allen took part in 21 separate Triathlons, and won every single time. To achieve this inhuman streak Allen defeated each of the top 50 Triathletes in the world across different races, truly establishing himself at the elite tier.

Even this unbelievable achievement isn’t why I compared Allen to MJ. After his first win in 1989, Allen took part in each of the next 4 Championships, winning each and every one. 5 consecutive years at the World Championships, 5 gold medals around his neck.

Like Jordan, Allen chose to take a break from dominating the Championship in ’94 only to return in ’95 for his last hurrah. At this stage he had 5 consecutive victories. No other endurance athlete came close to this achievement. Bar Dave Scott, of course, who did it against Allen in the latter’s early career. In his last WC race ever, Allen did what he’d been doing for the last half decade and took his streak up to 6 – reaching a milestone his fiercest competitor was never able to. A milestone we will likely never see reached again, because as I said before, this is GOAT behaviour.

Allen ended his endurance racing career with 6 Ironman World Championships in his last 6 attempts, victory in the inaugural ITU Triathlon World Championships in Avignon, 10 victories at the Nice International Championships,

Beyond this, he won the inaugural ITU Triathlon World Championship, he won the Nice International Championships 10 times, was voted into both the ITU and USAT Halls of Fame, was named ‘The World’s Fittest Man‘ by the 1997 Triathletes magazine, and of course, was named The Greatest Athlete of All Time by ESPN in 2012.

And so, this is the story of one of the most unbelievable sporting achievements that has largely gone under the radar.

This is the story of Mark Allen, a true legend of his sport whose achievements should forever be celebrated.

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Attack Symptoms | Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart Rate | Healthy Heart Tips | Running Heart Rate Zones | Heart Attack causes | Heart Rate Monitor | Cardio Exercise | Heart Rate While Running | Mental Stress

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Your heartbeat rises and falls according to your body’s varying need for oxygen.  Resting heart rate for all humans, irrespective of age and gender, tends to be similar, but there are several factors that may affect this. As such, assessing your heart rate can help you keep tabs on your health and fitness. 

Typically, a man’s resting heart rate should be between 70 to 72 beats per minute (bpm), and a woman’s heart rate should be between 78 to 82 bpm.

Biological Difference In Functions Of the Heart

In the long term, The cardiac function in women is better than in men because studies (ref. link) show that testosterone is considered detrimental to heart function as it increases cholesterol levels, and this build-up can tamper with the blood flow. In addition, estrogen is said to be cardio protective because it improves mitochondrial function in the body.

Women also have slightly smaller hearts than men, which means that the heart needs to beat faster to pump out enough blood to meet the body’s requirements. This higher bpm rate in women comes down when she goes through childbirth and attains menopause. 

A study (ref. link) by the National Library of Medicine states that men aged up to 64 years with cardiovascular diseases have a higher risk of death than women, but the risk increases in women after the age of 65, as the cardio protective benefits of estrogen fall away after menopause.

What Causes Irregular Heart Rate? 

Many assume that a sudden rise in heart rate leads to cardiac arrest, but this is not the case in most situations. One should get concerned when a rise in heart rate is accompanied by unexpected chest pain and breathing difficulties. 

Irregularities in heart rhythm are usually referred to as palpitations and can be caused by various reasons. In females, it can be caused by pregnancy, PCOD or PCOS, and other reasons like stress, anxiety, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and rigorous physical training. Heavy doses of medication can also cause side effects that result in palpitations

Therefore, knowing your body’s limits becomes vital. Geographical factors also play a significant role in determining your heart rate. For instance, when you are at higher altitudes, you are likely to get out of breath quicker because the oxygen levels are lower atop mountains and hills. Similarly, when diving in a sea, you push your body through the water, causing exhaustion to hit you twice as hard because of the low oxygen levels.

How To Maintain Your Heart Rate?

First off, having a healthy lifestyle helps immensely in maintaining a low resting heart rate and overall health. We can achieve this with breathing exercises. The best time to measure your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed.

For those who get worn out with physical training or working out, an effective alternative is a yoga. Yoga is known for building immunity and improving an individual’s overall health. Suryanamaskar and other basic yoga pose enhance the blood circulation of the body.

How To Measure Your Heart Rate?

The standard heart rate of a human should be between 60 to 100 bpm. A heart rate below 60 bpm is termed bradycardia, which means a slow heart rate, and a heart rate above 100 bpm is referred to as tachycardia, meaning a fast heart rate. 

For people with Bradycardia, it is advised that one should increase physical activity by walking or running on a treadmill with an incline, taking shorter breaks as you progress. As for people with fast heart rates, they should relax a bit more by taking deep breaths, warm baths or showers, and doing light stretching rather than intense workouts. 

There are many easy and effective ways to calculate your heart rate, such as checking your pulse. You can check it by placing two fingers on your wrist over the radial artery and counting your breath for 15 seconds. Then, multiply it by four to calculate your beats per minute. You can follow the same procedure by placing your finger on either side of your neck just below the jawbone or inside your elbow. 

You can also use an oximeter as an alternative. The pandemic has made these devices easily accessible so you can find it in your nearest medical store. You need to consult a doctor if your heart rate is more than 120 beats per minute.

A woman’s body undergoes several changes throughout her life, making her vulnerable to several health conditions. However, keeping track of your bpm can ease the process. Write down what your bpm is after you wake up, in a stressful situation, when you workout, or even go on an adventure. This will help you understand the function of your heart and body better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a normal heart rate for a woman?

A normal heart rate for a woman is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). However, it is important to note that heart rate can vary based on factors such as age, physical activity level, and overall health.

How can I check my heart rate?

There are several ways to check your heart rate:

  • Feel your pulse: You can feel your pulse by placing your fingers on the side of your neck or on your wrist. Count the number of beats you feel in 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by 4 to get your heart rate in bpm.
  • Use a heart rate monitor: Heart rate monitors are devices that can be worn on the wrist or chest to track heart rate. 

What factors can affect heart rate in women?

There are many factors that can affect heart rate in women, including:

  • Age: Heart rate tends to decrease as we age.
  • Physical activity: Heart rate tends to increase during physical activity and decrease during periods of rest.
  • Hormones: Hormones such as adrenaline and thyroid hormones can affect heart rate.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as beta blockers and stimulants, can affect heart rate.
  • Stress: Stress can cause an increase in heart rate.
  • Illness: Certain illnesses, such as an infection or fever, can cause an increase in heart rate.

Is it normal for heart rate to fluctuate?

Yes, it is normal for heart rate to fluctuate. Heart rate can change based on factors such as physical activity, stress, and body position. However, if you experience significant or persistent changes in heart rate, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.

What should I do if my heart rate is consistently above or below the normal range?

If your heart rate is consistently above or below the normal range, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause of the abnormal heart rate and recommend appropriate treatment.

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

AFib Risk Factors | Low Carb Diet | Endurance Training | Best Heart Rate Monitors | How to Improve Heart Health | Heart Rate While Running | Heart Health | Running Heart Rate Zones | Increased Heart rate

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Cycling is one of the best ways to maintain your heart rate because it contributes positively to a strong and healthy body. You will notice your heart rate increasing when you start pedalling. However, your heart rate variability depends on age, exercise intensity, and health. Whether you choose a new way to commute to work, or favour replacing your car or bike ride with a healthier alternative – cycling is your answer.

Your heart rate is unique, and activities like cycling might help you understand your heart rate. Measuring your continuous heart rate when cycling is a good way to do this. So, what are the benefits of this measurement? We shall go into more depth about them below.

What Do You Mean by Heart Rate?

Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. This varies from person to person. The heart rate is also called the pulse rate because it is the frequency of the heartbeat measured by the number of contractions of the heart per minute. Your body controls the heart rate to match your activities. That is why your heartbeat rises when you are active, scared, excited, or drops when you are calm, comfortable, or taking rest. 

The average heart rate at rest for adults ranges between 60-100 beats per minute. A lower heart rate implies efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness.

You can feel your normal resting heart rate at the side of the neck, the wrist, the top of the foot, the back of the knees, the groin, and other places of your body where the artery is close to your skin.

Multiple factors can affect your heart rate that includes,

  • Age 
  • Body size
  • Fitness level
  • Air temperature
  • Emotions
  • Medications
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular diseases.

What Are the Heart Rate Zones?

Heart rate zones are the percentage of heartbeats per minute. Your heart and body struggle to keep up with demands if you exercise close to your maximum heart rate. So, the heart rate zones help make you efficient and challenge you to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Heart rate training uses the zones depending on your maximum heart rate. Here is a breakdown of the five different heart rate zones.

Zone      Maximum Heart Rate    
Zone 1 50-60%
Zone 2 60-70%
Zone 3 70-80%
Zone 4 80-90%
Zone 5 90-100%


How Does Cycling Benefit Your Heart?

Cycling and cardiovascular health go hand in hand. Here are the many ways cycling benefits your heart health,

  • Ensures muscular flexibility and strength.
  • Helps improve your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Improves your mood and reduces anxiety.
  • Increases joint mobility and improves body coordination and posture.
  • Leads to decreased body fat.
  • Reduces the risk of cancer and dementia.

How To Check Your Heart Rate While Cycling?

You may find it difficult to measure your maximum or normal resting heart rate during physical activities like cycling. However, it is not impossible to measure your continuous heart rate during this period. So, what is the procedure?

You can measure your continuous heart rate while cycling in the following ways.

  • Talk Aloud
    The best way to test your pace is to talk aloud when you cycle down the road. The talk test proves beneficial if your bike does not have a speedometer to determine whether you are cycling vigorously or at a moderate pace. Try saying a simple phrase aloud, and if you cannot finish it without an additional breath, you are cycling at a vigorous speed. However, if you complete the phrase in a single breath, you are cycling at a moderate intensity.
  • Track Your Progress
    Your heart rate is unique to you when you do physical activities like cycling. The best way to measure it continuously during this period is by using a heart rate monitor. It helps measure the electric signals from your heart that get transmitted to a data centre, a wristwatch, or a similar gadget. A few models also enable you to analyse the heart rate variability via a computer.

Benefits Of Measuring Continuous Heart Rate While Cycling

Monitoring your heart rate can enable you to take your physical activities to the next level by allowing you to change how you train using relevant information. As such, workouts like cycling can bring you highly positive results if planned according to your normal resting heart rate

However, you must measure your continuous heart rate while cycling to ensure your physical activities are on the right track. Here is a breakdown of the benefits related to heart rate monitoring.

  • Workout Intensity
    Measuring your average heart rate is the best way to check your cycling intensity and compare your effort across different sessions. It acts as a personal coach to let you know whether to intensify your workout or slow it down.
  • Zero Overstraining
    Measuring the intensity of your continuous heart rate can prevent you from overstraining yourself when cycling. You can determine the maximum intensity that works for your heart and body after finding the right heart rate for you.
  • Better Measurement
    The best part is that you know the duration of your physical activity and can now assess the intensity of it to get positive results and know the number of calories you burn in a day.

Final Words

Cycling is one of the best exercises to improve physical and mental well-being. The activity involves cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate, strengthens your heart muscles, lowers blood pressure, and helps you manage weight. Cycling is your road to a healthy heart and a fit lifestyle. 

You can access any fitness tracker to measure your average heart rate while cycling frequently to prevent future health complications. Measure your heart rate variability while cycling to understand the intensity of your physical activity and improve it depending on what you require from your workout. Doing so will help you maintain your heart rate, lower heart complications risk, and become a healthy and fit individual. So, consider including cycling as a regular fitness regime in your lifestyle to ensure your health and well-being.

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Rate Zones | Resting Heart Rate | Signs of Heart Attack |Silent heart attack | Heart Rate During Exercise | Best ECG Monitor.| Healthy Heart Exercise | Yoga for Heart Health | Long Covid Symptoms

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A healthy heart is the secret to leading a longer and happier life. Maintaining your heart health is extremely important and its significance is one of the main reasons long-distance runners always take good care by maintaining a proper diet and workout routine.

A Heart-Healthy Diet

It is important to maintain a high-nutrient diet to have a healthy heart. Consuming healthy food and slightly altering your eating habits can do wonders for your heart’s health. Here are some things that you must follow for a heart-healthy diet

  • Eat in Intervals
    The portion size of food you consume and the frequency at which you consume it can significantly affect your digestion. Consume smaller portions of food, at regular intervals of 2-3 hours, rather than eating large single meals.
  • Rely More on Natural Nutrients
    Supplements are a great sourchee of nutrients. But they cannot replace the naturally available vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits. Therefore, it is necessary to consume vegetables and fruits frequently.
  • Switch to Whole Grains
    Whole grains, such as entire wheat, offer more nutrients and fibres than the available refined flour. This is a simple substitution that can help you in the long run.
  • Reduce Consuming Unhealthy Fats
    Avoid eating unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans fats. This can help you maintain your cholesterol levels.
  • While Adding Proteins, Select Low-Fat Options
    Proteins are a must while running. They are the primary food for muscles. While adding protein sources such as chicken, fish, soya, dals, etc., to your meal, opt for low-fat options. For instance, opt for boiled or roasted food over fried food.
  • Restrict Sodium Intake
    Water retention in the body is brought on by sodium. The primary source of sodium for our body is a common salt. Ditching regular salt and switching to black salt or sea salt can significantly reduce sodium intake because these salts have potassium chloride in them. Moreover, avoid adding salt over the top of the food as much as possible.
  • Stick to Meal Plans
    Meal plans are a great way to monitor carefully what you’re consuming throughout the day. Planning your diet chart ahead of time helps ensure you consume a balanced diet. Thus, you can curate a chart that has more proteins than fats.

Here are some items that you must include in your daily diet plan for a healthy heart –

  • The healthy alternatives to regular oils are olive oil and mustard oil, as they have less harmful fatty acids.
  • Include seafood in your diet at least two times a week as it is an excellent source of proteins and Omega. If this is not possible, try adding cod liver oil or salmon oil to your food. 
  • Add more green leafy vegetables such as coriander, spinach, and kale.
  • Vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, and broccoli must be a part of your everyday salads. 
  • Fruits are a great way to consume fibre and ensure the stomach is full. Include fruits such as watermelon, muskmelon, papaya, and apple. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons should also be added.
  • Add legumes such as lentils and chickpeas to your meal plan.

How to Improve Heart Health?

Maintaining a healthy heart is not as difficult as it sounds. It only requires small daily efforts. Here is some advice on how to improve heart health – 

  • Exercise Regularly
    Exercising helps burn extra calories and keeps the body in shape. In addition, it provides the muscles with the necessary movements to keep them healthy and in shape.
  • Quit Unhealthy Practices
    Unhealthy practices such as smoking and overconsuming alcohol can negatively affect the well-being of the body. Along with this, avoid eating junk and preservative food as it harms the body.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight
    The heart is responsible for pumping blood to all body cells. When the body is obese, it puts more pressure and load on the heart to pump more oxygenated blood. Over time, this tires the heart out.
  • Avoid Stress
    When experiencing stress, there is a surge in blood pressure. This puts an extra load on the heart. Thus, it must be avoided.

Heart Rate After Running

The normal heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute, depending on the activity of the individual. The average heart rate is 72 beats per minute. However, the body’s cells need more oxygen while exercising and running. Thus, the heart needs to pump out more oxygenated blood. This increases the average heart rate.
The average heart rate of a person while running depends on their age. On average, this can be calculated by subtracting 45 from 220. For moderate running, individuals reach about 50-70% of their maximum, while for vigorous running, this can be between 70-85%.

Why is Running Good for Your Heart?

The muscles of our body require constant wear and tear to keep them in shape. This is what running offers. It ultimately makes the muscles work. Even while resting, the fats are burning, and it helps in healing the muscles. This system helps in strengthening muscles and results in an overall healthier heart.
It also has other implications that can affect the heart indirectly. Running results in burning excess fat and calories, putting the body in shape. It helps reduce extra body fat, keep the body toned, and maintain body weight.

How does Running Change Heart Health?

How running changes heart health:

  • It helps in reducing blood pressure. This is because the heart muscles get a good workout and become stronger. while running 
  • Running helps reduce body weight. 
  • Maintains good cholesterol levels. 
  • It reduces the workload of the heart. 
  • Eliminates the risk of many heart diseases.
  • Helps to reduce BMI.

Running helps improve the heart’s overall health by maintaining body weight, cholesterol, and the strength of muscles. To lead a healthy and long life, adding running to your everyday routine can be supremely effective.. Why wait? Begin a short 30-minute run starting today!

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Normal Resting Heart Rate | Heart Palpitations After Eating | Cardio Exercise | Best Heart Rate Monitor | Irregular Heartbeat | Living With AFib | Stress Test for Heart | Heart Rate Monitor Device | Heart Health Tips

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We all know how to keep our hearts healthy, right? We’ve all been told we need to sleep well, to drink responsibly, to not smoke, to avoid high stress situations, and most of all, to be physically active. ‘Cardio’, the aptly titled subset of fitness training, is synonymous with positive heart health and is widely seen as an infallible means of protecting yourself from cardiac issues.

So, it should be straightforward, right?

If only it was.

While exercise is generally beneficial, it’s no secret that different physical activity impacts your body in different ways. While engaged in ‘Cardio’ these differences are primarily determined by how hard you’re pushing your heart, and for how long. Sometimes your main aim is sustained physical activity, meaning you need to pace yourself and keep your heart rate low and even. Other times significantly raising your heart rate for short periods of time is required to build stamina or burn fat. Whatever the health-related goals of your training are, they would be most effectively achieved if you could target the ideal heart rate zones for each goal. Given this, the most accurate way to measure the data required is by monitoring your cardiac activity in real time as you work out.

Fortunately, there’s a few devices out there that do exactly this. That means you have some choice, so how do you know which one to pick, which one is best suited to your needs.

First off, it’s important to understand how the devices work. Most major heart health monitors use one of two sensors to record your heart activity.

SENSOR SELECTION: THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND ECG MONITORING

PPG (photoplethysmography) sensors use optical or light-based technology to sense the rate at which blood flows through your veins, a metric which is directly correlated to the pumping action of the cardiac muscles.

Many wearable devices like watches and fitness bands depend on optical technology. Although they’re convenient to use and wear, the readings may not be as accurate as the data derived from chest electrodes (explained below), as they are often displaced during exercise.

ECG (electrocardiography) sensors measure the small electrical signals that control the heart muscles, allowing them to expand and contract effectively. Chest strap devices, ECG patches, medical grade 12 lead ECGs, and stress tests use electrodes to measure and record these impulses. This is proven to be more accurate and dependable, especially when it is used to collect heart rate data while exercising.

With this fundamental knowledge acquired, we can now assess the different types of devices.

5. WRIST READY! – WATCHES & FITNESS BANDS

Examples – Apple Watch (series 4 to 7), Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 & Active2, Garmin, and Withings Move ECG

Perhaps the most well known devices on the list, you’re likely to know about these products whether or not you were previously interested in either fitness or monitoring your heart health. Smartwatches that provide ECGs are gaining popularity because of their sleek features and the convenience of simply snapping them on your wrist.

Type of sensor used – PPG or optical monitoring device.

Pros – These devices record your heart rhythm and can alert you if they detect an abnormal rhythm like atrial fibrillation or afib. Most watches have a built-in sensor that takes a spot reading of your heart rate if you press a button or if the sensor is pressed against your skin.

“Afib can come and go, as can conditions that affect the rhythm of your heart. That means having a device that can take spot readings at any time makes it a hugely powerful health tool to have at your disposal,” said Dr Conor Heneghan, Director of Research Algorithms at Fitbit.

Cons – Wrist wearable devices often have poor signal quality for a number of reasons including the distance of the sensor from the heart. They are also usually unable to continuously record ECG readings at rest or while exercising.

4. HEAR YOUR PULSE! – INNER EAR DEVICES

Examples – LG’s Heart Rate Monitor Earphone, Amazfit PowerBuds, Bose SoundSport Pulse, and Phillips Sports Headphones

For most of us, music and exercise go hand in hand. We all have a favourite workout playlist that gets us moving. Combining the best features of smartwatches and sports headphones, these devices mean you can now monitor your heart rate through your earpiece!

Type of sensor – PPG or optical monitoring devices

Pros – Your ear is relatively stable, with very limited movement even when you are actively exercising. Additionally, consumers are usually already comfortable using earbuds for phone calls, work, or even watching a show on Netflix. It is non-invasive, un-obtrusive, and provides fairly accurate heart rate readings.

Cons – The shape and size of the ear is not universal, so it may prove difficult to get a fit good enough to capture the readings with a high level of accuracy. Beyond this, wearing a device in your ear all day may get uncomfortable, so recording over longer time periods is made difficult.

3. KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON! – TEXTILE ELECTRODES FOR ECG MONITORING

Example – Hexoskin

Imagine being able to get a continuous 1-lead ECG with your Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) for stress monitoring, Heart Rate Zones, and Heart Rate Recovery just by pulling on a shirt! Clothing (ref. link) based ECG monitors with dry electrodes are adding new options to the field of wearable medical devices.

“Smart clothing is the next evolution for wearable technology, and it has enormous potential for health and medical applications,” says Josh Rose, VP, R&DS (ref. link), IQVIA.

Type of sensor – ECG monitoring devices

Pros – Smart textiles can offer seamless sensors without bulky devices or wires, making them a comfortable and user-friendly option for continuous monitoring. All you have to do is put on the shirt, and the sensors handle the rest!

Cons – Their cost and durability may be barriers that limit the use of smart textiles to only elite athletes.

2. STICK SENSORS – ECG CHEST PATCHES

Examples – SanketLife, Ziopatch,Vitalconnect, Monitra healthcare, and Ten3t.

Sticky ECG Chest patches were born from the innovative engineering that produced miniaturised medical devices to provide cardiac monitors for ambulatory use.

Type of sensor – ECG monitoring devices that includes sticky patches containing the electrodes.

Pros – This “on-body” device can be worn for extended periods of time (days to weeks) to monitor your heart rate continuously. They have overcome the limitations of other medical-grade ECG devices like multi-lead 24-/48-h Holter monitors and event recorders.

Cons – The sticker-and-lead-based devices require a physician/cardiologist to apply the disposable patches in the correct locations, and you may need to be clean shaven to make sure the patches stick to the skin properly. Similarly, because it is stuck atop the chest it may be uncomfortable for women who have to wear it all day. The stickers also often fall off due to sweat, making them difficult to use while exercising. You can’t get real-time feedback because the data is usually not live-streamed, it is downloaded and viewed offline by doctors.

1. HEART CENTRIC – CHEST STRAP ECG DEVICES

Saving the best for last, when you need an accurate device that can detect cardiac arrhythmias and fluctuations in heart rate through continuous monitoring, chest strap ECG devices are just the answer!

Type of sensor – ECG monitoring device

Pros – The chest strap has been around for nearly 40 years and has been studied extensively, making it the gold standard for remote ECG monitoring. It is also reliable, durable and comfortable. This means that people tend to wear it over long periods while maintaining their normal activity levels, at rest or while exercising. As a result, it is not only easier to detect abnormal heart rhythms with such a device, but you are also more likely to discover triggers for sporadic conditions like Afib.

Cons – Placement is everything. You have to secure the chest strap exactly as instructed to get accurate readings.

Example:

The Monitor changes things up by having you wear the fitness tracker directly over your heart, providing continuous ECG monitoring that keeps you aware of your heart health and strain in real-time.

Because it’s on your chest, it also provides more accurate measurements of your breathing rate, determining how much effort you’re expending accordingly. It is suitable for all sports, even swimming — thanks to its IP67 waterproof rating.

The device will vibrate to immediately give you feedback if you go past your pre-set thresholds that are determined by your respiratory rate and cardiac strain.

With so many options available, it’s understandable that choosing the right device can get confusing. Beyond the research provided above, here are a few guidelines you can use to help you decide when you are looking for a SMART heart monitor.

Go beyond just measuring your heart rate and get the best results from your investment!

  • Does it measure heart rhythms at rest as well as during exercise?
  • Does it offer continuous, real-time ECG monitoring?
  • Does it give alerts if it detects an abnormal heart rhythm?
  • Does it share reports remotely with your healthcare provider?
  • Does it give you information about heart strain and heart rate variability?
  • Is the technology it uses affected by movement during exercise?
  • Is the device comfortable and convenient to wear?
  • Is it easy to use, and is it compatible with your other training and fitness equipment?
  • Is the data it provides accurate enough for the type of heart activity you want to monitor?

If you want a dependable, accurate and comprehensive way to monitor your improve heart health, check out the Monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions Heart Rate Monitor :

1. What is a normal heart rate?

Your resting heart rate or normal heart rate depends on a number of factors including your overall health and your age. The normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute (Source: American Heart Association (AHA). Some people can have a resting heart rate that is lower than 60 beats per minute and it is still considered normal. They might be athletes or people taking certain medications such as beta-blockers. 

2. What are heart rate monitoring techniques?

Heart rate monitoring techniques include manual methods such as checking the pulse at your wrist or neck or determining your pulse with a stethoscope. You can also choose heart rate monitors such as the devices mentioned in this blog. 

3. How do you determine which heart rate monitor is right for you?

The selection of heart rate monitors depends on the monitor type and features that you require. You will find heart rate monitors with sensors that are located on a chest strap or the wrist. Chest strap monitors are recommended for anyone considering heart-rate zone training. 

4. Which is the quickest way to accurately determine your heart rate?

To quickly determine your heart or pulse rate accurately, you can feel the radial pulse on the artery of your wrist that is in line with your thumb. Use the tips of your index and middle fingers over the artery. Take a 60-second count of your heartbeat by pressing lightly. (Source: CDC)

5. How do heart rate monitors work?

Most of the monitors that track your heart rate use photoplethysmography or PPG. These sensors use optical or light-based technology. Technically, the term PPG signifies shining light into your skin and measuring the amount of light that is scattered by blood flow. ECG (electrocardiography) sensors track electrical signals that control the heart muscles. 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Palpitations | Running Heart Rate Zones | Low Heart Rate | Heart Rate Monitor | Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms | Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart rate | Heart Health | Cardiac Arrhythmia

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK

ENDURANCE TRAINING AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN IMPROVING HEART HEALTH

The phrase ‘my heart is beating out my chest’ is given new meaning to you as you come to a stop. You don’t just understand it, you are currently living it. Words you once saw as hyperbole are now a reality, with each LUB-DUB of your heart seemingly threatening the solidity of your rib cage. You’re entirely drenched in sweat that drips, nay streams, down from your hair all through your sports tee, giving it a colour gradient that wasn’t there before. ‘This gradient is the attire of winners’ you think to yourself between laboured breaths and large chugs of water. And you’re right, because you’ve pushed yourself harder and further than ever before, and that’s what winners do. Whether you’re a runner, a swimmer, or a biker, you have shared in this beautiful feeling that comes post endurance training. A well deserved sense of pride washes over you as you watch yourself put in the work required to achieve your goals. You’re feeling stronger and more physically able, the endorphins in your brain have you on cloud nine, and you know your mirror is going to start showing you what you want to see.

But better than all of this is the invisible improvement you’re making. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and you are out there improving your heart health every time you lace your shoes up or don your swimsuit. It is reported that people who engage in endurance training regularly show lower rates of disability and an average life expectancy that is 7 years greater than their physically inactive counterparts[i] [ii].

With all this considered, it makes complete sense that those of us who get into endurance training want to keep pushing ourselves. We compete with ourselves, trying to better our fastest time or our greatest distance. We compete with friends and family, using social media or certain training based platforms (who can forget the part of the pandemic that had everyone uploading their daily runs). We compete and push ourselves because that is what training is at its core. I challenge you to find a gym that doesn’t have a quote like “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” printed across its walls. As cheesy as it sounds, it makes sense, right? The more effort you put in, the greater the reward you reap.

But that’s not particularly scientific, is it? Certainly, this innate sense of positive impact is good enough for most of us, but the medical community needs something more empirical.

And so, we’re going to look at a medical article[iii] published by the Mayo Clinic that addresses exactly this question, empirically.

IS ENDURANCE TRAINING ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOUR HEART?

The short answer. Yes.

No surprises there.

The paper states that “physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacological agent”.

The concept is simple – there is a reason doctor’s have always prescribed regular Endurance Training to patients with a variety of conditions. Engaging in daily physical activity allows the body to go through certain physiological changes that prime it for effective prevention or treatment of some of the most prevalent heart issues known to the world. Some chronic conditions that are significantly improved through Endurance Training are hypertension, heart failure, obesity, depression, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The paper actually lists 13 different physiological changes brought about by endurance training that each directly reduce one’s risk of Coronary Heart Disease.

So, do we leave it there?

Certainly not. The paper continues with Endurance Training as a drug analogy to explain a simple caveat. You CAN OVERDO it. When it comes to actual medication, this is quite obvious to us, isn’t it. You’re not going to empty a bottle of Ibuprofen into your throat just because you have a particularly bad headache, will you?

Endurance Training works the same way.

In the words of the Doctors themselves ‘As with any pharmacological agent, a safe upper-dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of physical ET may outweigh its benefits.’

Let’s find out what the safe upper and lower limits are then.

HOW MUCH ENDURANCE TRAINING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART

Over 415,000 participants were observed across 12 years in a prospective cohort study[iv] to see whether less than the recommended amount (150 min/week) of exercise can have life expectancy benefits. Participants were placed into 5 groups depending on time spent training per week, with mortality risks and life expectancy calculated for each.

The Results. In comparison with the ‘Inactive’ group the ‘Lowest Activity’ group showed 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, and a 3 year longer life expectancy. This group exercised for approximately 15 minutes a day. Each addition of 15 min/day of training reduced all-cause mortality by 4%.

In some sense this proved that, up to an hour, increased time spent training did increase the health benefits accrued. What it also showed is that the most significant jump was found between the inactive and lowest activity groups, highlighting that even 15 minutes of training a day can significantly improve your heart and general health.

Another similar observational study[v] looked at 52,000 adults and found that runners had a 19% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with nonrunners. The trend they found was that the mortality curves were always U shaped when charted against distance, speed, or frequency. In simple terms, when a study reports a U-shaped curve it means that there is the lowest incidence of disease in the middle ranges, with peaks in both the lower (Inactive) and upper (Over exertion) ranges. Running distances of about 1 to 20 miles per week, speeds of 6 to 7 miles per hour, and frequencies of 2 to 5 days per week were associated with lower all-cause mortality, whereas higher mileage, faster paces, and more frequent runs were not associated with better survival.

So, there we have it, empirical data on the ideal training ranges.

ENDURANCE TRAINING WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE A HEART CONDITION

The human body is very complicated, and that means that any ranges offered (as above) are guidelines created based on expected averages. Everybody works differently, and so everyone will see moderately different results even when training exactly the same. So, is all the information provided accurate for those with pre-existing heart conditions, given the ideal range of training is most important to this community of Endurance Trainers.

One study assigned 60 male patients who had Coronary Heart Disease to two groups – either they engaged in Endurance Training for 30-minute sessions, or they did it for 60.

The results. The 30-minute exercise sessions produced less oxidant stress and improved arterial elasticity, whereas 60-minute sessions worsened oxidant stress and increased vascular stiffness. While you do not need to know the specifics, this effectively showed that the lower activity duration (different from inactivity) actually provided greater benefits specifically in relation to heart health.

So, though a lot of people in such situations assume they need to go above and beyond to correct their heart issues, the evidence points to the contrary. Endurance Training for those with Coronary Heart Disease is most effective if they can calculate the ideal duration and exertion, and pushing their limits in this regard may actually be counter-productive.

WHAT NOW?

All of the information provided essentially boils down to one thing – Endurance Training is a fantastic way to treat or prevent heart health issues, but it is only effective when used in the correct amounts.

Fortunately for us we live in the age of modern technology, and with it almost anything is possible. There are a number of devices that provide you with a range of information that helps calculate and set these correct amounts of training, while also making sure you do not go above it.

Here is a link to ‘The 5 Best Devices That Help You Keep Your Heart Healthy’.

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart rate | Healthy Heart Tips | Arrhythmia Causes | Running Heart Rate | Heart Attack Causes | Best ECG Monitors | Heart Rate While Running | Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK

Do you feel like you’re going through a post covid fatigue? Your energy levels are not what they were and you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself to exercise like you used to? According to studies, you’re definitely not alone!

Covid-19 disrupted our way of life considerably over the last few years. But one of the most significant impacts we have noticed is the way it has changed our approach to health.

During the first few months of the lockdown, stay-at-home orders, closures of parks, gyms, and fitness centres made it difficult for us to continue with our fitness routines.

Heart Health Concerns: What the Data Shows

Data from studies done in early 2020 revealed that physical activity levels dropped dramatically in many countries. This was determined by analysing more than 19 million smartphone-based (ref. link), step-counting measurements taken over 1 year. Another study in 2021, found that people who used to have steady walking, running, and cycling habits before the pandemic, decreased their activity levels considerably.

As we start off 2022, with a new vaccine, a steadily declining number of Covid cases and easing up of restrictions around the world, people are now ready to go back to the way things were. Devices such as a heart rate monitor are gaining a steady following. 

But, this may be more challenging than we realise!

HOW DOES POST COVID FATIGUE AFFECT OUR LONG-TERM FITNESS LEVELS? 

Although Covid19 is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs first, studies have shown that it can cause long-lasting effects on our overall health.

Studies show (ref. link) that more than one-third of people affected by Covid could develop signs of Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). Another study revealed that post covid fatigue and body pain after exercise were the most common symptoms, even after 7 months of the initial infection, as shown in the figure below.

Covid & its long term effects

Perhaps the most significant complication of the covid19 infection is its ability to directly affect our heart.

MYOCARDITIS CAUSES AND COVID: WHAT WE KNOW

Research has shown that the virus does infect and damage cardiomyocytes or heart muscle cells, and interfere with their contraction. The inflammation in heart muscles is called myocarditis and it is known to occur even in patients who only had mild symptoms.  15% of the athletes (ref. link) at a US-based university developed myocarditis after Covid, while another study revealed that 78% of the people evaluated had cardiac involvement when they were infected, and nearly 60% of them still showed ongoing myocardial inflammation.

In addition, studies also showed (ref. link) that there were increased risks of atrial fibrillation, sinus tachycardia, sinus bradycardia, ventricular arrhythmias, and atrial flutters. Data revealed that dysrhythmias were 1.69 times more likely to occur, even 12 months after an acute Covid 19 infection, when compared to control groups in the study.

Covid Induced Myocarditis

MYOCARDITIS SYMPTOMS: HOW DO YOU RECOGNISE THE SIGNS? 

Patients with acute viral infection may initially have headaches, body aches, joint pain, fever, a sore throat or diarrhoea. Later on, they could also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, at rest or during activity, swelling of the legs, ankles or feet and fatigue.

Another effect of myocarditis is irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias. A study reported that 78.7% of myocarditis patients experienced ventricular arrhythmia. It is believed that myocarditis causes direct damage to the membranes of the cardiac cells and disrupts the electrical conduction needed for regular heartbeats. The inflammation around the heart muscle may cause swelling, fibrosis and scar formation which also leads to irregular beats.

HOW WOULD YOU DIAGNOSE MYOCARDITIS? 

Cardiac markers (ref. link) or enzymes like troponin [cardiac troponin I (cTnI), cardiac troponin T (cTnT)] and N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide [NT-proBNP]) are elevated and can be determined with simple blood tests.

An ECG may also show abnormal wave patterns like bundle branch blocks, QT prolongation, premature ventricular complexes, and bradyarrhythmia, along with ST-elevation or PR depression.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends further testing for people who experience signs of myocarditis using more advanced cardiac imaging methods such as an echocardiogram or cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR).

HOW SOON AFTER HAVING MYOCARDITIS CAN YOU EXERCISE? 

The European Society of Preventive Cardiology (ref. link) recommends that people who had myocarditis should begin to exercise if they are free from symptoms, have a normal 12-lead ECG, echocardiography, and exercise testing with no abnormal patterns seen in Holter ECG monitoring as well.

 

Frequently Asked Questions :


What are the tests to diagnose myocarditis?

The most common tests for myocarditis include chest x-rays, electrocardiogram, Echocardiogram, heart biopsy, and MRI scans. CDC recommends that anyone recently vaccinated seek medical attention at the earliest if they develop any of the myocarditis symptoms.

What myocarditis signs and symptoms should you be aware of?

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and a fluttering or pounding heart are the most common signs or symptoms of myocarditis. The lack of specific symptoms makes the detection and treatment of myocarditis challenging.

Can Myocarditis recur?

Most conditions of myocarditis are known to be self-resolving. In some conditions, myocarditis can recur. It usually recurs due to various inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune disorders.

What Can You Do to Prevent Myocarditis?

Maintain a healthy lifestyle to treat, recover, and prevent myocarditis. Apart from that, avoid close contact with anyone suffering from flu or other respiratory infections.

What Are the Treatment Options for Myocarditis?

Myocarditis causes and severity determine the treatment options. While anyone suffering from mild myocarditis might be advised rest at home, anyone with heart failure symptoms might require medication and hospitalisation.

*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Rate Zones | Resting Heart Rate | Signs of Heart Attack | Atrial Fibrillation Treatment | Cardiovascular Disease | Heart Rate During Exercise | Heart Rate Monitor| Healthy Heart Exercise | Arrhythmia Symptoms | Reasons for Heart Palpitations

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK

Football fans worldwide were stunned when Denmark’s midfielder, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the field during a European Championship match. One of America’s toughest CrossFit trainers, Bob Harper (ref. link), a regular on the fan favourite TV show, the Biggest Loser, suffered a major cardiac arrest. Algerian soccer player Sofiane Lokar passed away at the age of 30 years, after collapsing on the field because of a heart attack.

We know that heart disease has been rising over the last few decades. According to the CDC in the United States (ref. link), 1 in every four deaths is due to cardiac disease, with over 610,000 people dying each year.  Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Europe (ref. link). with nearly 6 million new cases diagnosed every year.

So why did reports of these deaths in the news take us by surprise? What made these cases stand out? This group of people who suffered from cardiac disease were young and physically fit. These rising numbers are understandably worrying. It questions the things we tend to believe about heart disease- that it’s a disease of the elderly, that you should be safe if you exercise and that your annual health check-up will surely pick up signs of heart damage early enough.

Heart disease may be more complex than we thought it was. Here are 5 Things you need to know about its evolution so that you can do your part to care for your heart!

1. Heart disease doesn’t discriminate

Both men and women share risk factors for heart disease like genetics, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, smoking, stress, and excessive alcohol intake. However, women also suffer from certain diseases like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), and high blood pressure during pregnancy. This, in turn, increases their chances of heart disease.

2. Heart Attacks are just the tip of the iceberg!

Heart disease encompasses a wide variety of cardiovascular conditions.

What Types of Heart Disease Do You Need to Know About

  • Arrhythmias, which are irregular heart rhythms. The most common ones are atrial fibrillations or ventricular fibrillation, which we may perceive as heart flutters. They may be picked up when we monitor our ECGs or heart rates while exercising.
  • Atherosclerosis, which occurs when the walls of our blood vessels begin to harden
  • Cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscles to harden or weaken so that its unable to pump blood effectively
  • Congenital heart defects, which are irregularities in the heart structure that are present from birth
  • Coronary heart disease, or ischemic heart disease, is caused due to the buildup of plaques in the heart’s blood vessels, usually made up of fat or cholesterol. This buildup blocks blood flow to the heart muscles, causing the classic symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Heart infections may be caused by bacteria or viruses and severely compromise cardiac function.


3. Thin doesn’t always mean a healthy heart 

A condition called TOFI – Thin Outside, Fat Inside, has gained prominence in recent years. Although people with obesity or fat under their skin do have higher chances of heart disease, people with larger quantities of visceral fat surrounding their internal organs are also equally at risk.

These people may look thin from the outside, but studies have shown that they tend to suffer from cardiac disease. Research from Mt. Sinai Hospital (ref. link) revealed that women with pericardial fat (or fat around their hearts) were even more likely to suffer from heart conditions.

4. Chest pain is not the only symptom of heart disease  

The most common presentation of heart disease is a heart attack or ischemic attack, where people first complain of chest pain or discomfort, followed by building pressure in the chest, breathlessness, or nausea. On the other hand, women commonly complain of jaw pain, back pain, dizziness, anxiety, disturbed sleep, and indigestion. The most frequently missed sign of heart disease is stomach pain in the upper part of the abdomen that could be mistaken for acidity or gas.

People with arrhythmias may complain of a fluttering or racing heartbeat, a slow pulse, or fainting spells. At the same time, those with cardiomyopathy may have fatigue, bloating and swelling as their primary symptoms.

5. Routine one-time tests may not be able to pick up heart disease all the time

How is heart disease diagnosed?

The most common tests we hear about when it comes to heart disease are :

  • ECG or electrocardiograms record your heart rate and rhythm while diagnosing problems with the electrical activity of the cardiac muscle.
  • 2D-echo or echocardiograms use ultrasound waves to produce a picture of your heart and its chambers and estimate how well it’s functioning
  • Stress Tests evaluate heart activity while you are made to walk or run on a treadmill
  • Holter monitors are strapped onto your chest to study heart rhythms over long periods (sometimes 24-48 hours)
  • CT Scans or MRIs of the heart to visualise the blood vessels and chambers
  • Blood tests for cardiac biomarkers like Troponin levels, creatinine kinase, CK-MB, and myoglobin are released into the bloodstream when the heart is damaged or stressed. Lipid tests can give an estimate of your blood cholesterol levels.
  • Invasive tests like cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiographies involve inserting a catheter into your heart vessels through the groin arteries and injecting a dye into the delicate vessels to give a detailed x-ray image that can pick up blockages or other abnormalities.

Many of these tests are part of the annual health checks that we sign up for. However, abnormalities in your heart using these tests can only be picked up if you are already experiencing symptoms of heart disease. By that time, it may already be too late. This is why continuous real-time monitoring of heart activity is a great way to keep track of your heart health.

Studies have shown that lifestyle changes can help you prevent heart disease. Research from Harvard University estimated that those who do not smoke and engage in regular physical activity with a healthy diet lowered their risk of heart disease by nearly 50%.

 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Heart disease might be silent and remain undetected until you experience signs of a heart attack. You might experience arrhythmia or heart failure as well, with symptoms including chest pain or discomfort and heartburn. 

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

It has been observed that high levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking might be the key risk factors for heart disease. Apart from that a number of lifestyle choices including obesity, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet might put you at a higher risk of heart disease. 

What are the early signs of heart disease?

Chest pain (between the neck and your abdomen) is one of the most common signs of heart disease. While some people might feel excruciating pain, others might experience mild discomfort. Fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and uneven heartbeats are other signs.

How to check your heart health regularly?

You can determine your heart health by going in for regular tests including echocardiogram that is used to determine the cause of heart murmur. An Electrocardiogram monitors the changes in heart rhythm and an MRI can assess the heart structure and function of the heart valves.

What are the best heart disease prevention tips?

It is recommended that you follow a heart healthy lifestyle to protect your heart. Get moving and aim for activity ranging from 30-60 minutes to stay fit; eat a heart-healthy diet and manage your stress levels to prevent heart disease. 

 

*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Health | Cardiac Arrhythmia | Heart Palpitations | Running Heart Rate Zones | Low Heart Rate | Heart Rate Monitor | Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms | Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart rate

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common heart arrhythmias affecting at least 1% of the (ref. link) population. Atrial Fibrillation is caused by the abnormal functioning of the impulse conduction system of the heart. Essentially, arrhythmias are an irregular heartbeat that occur when the electrical signals that coordinate the cardiac cycle are disrupted. Atrial fibrillation belongs to a class called supraventricular arrhythmias, which refers to one that originates from the upper ventricular area. It is the most common cause of cardiac stroke. Studies (ref. link) show that the risk of ischemic stroke for people with atrial fibrillation is 3 to 5 times higher than for people without the condition.

Read on to learn about the warning signs of Afib and the reasons it may occur. In addition there’s a section highlighting its occurrence in athletes, and how continuous monitoring can be useful to understand and track episodes.

1. What does an Afib Episode feel like? 

  • You may notice a skipped heartbeat and then feel a thud or thump, followed by a racing heartbeat for some time after.
  • You may experience palpitations or a fluttering sensation in your heart
  • You may sweat or experience chest pain, similar to a heart attack.
  • Your pulse is erratic or weak.
  • You may feel dizzy, weak, tired, or breathless.
  • You may not have any symptoms and have an episode of silent AFib.

If you have experienced symptoms like these, it is essential to tell your doctor about them and ask about tests to determine if you have atrial fibrillation or any other cardiac arrhythmia.

2. Why does Atrial Fibrillation occur? 

The atria are the heart’s collecting chambers. Regular electrical signals help push blood efficiently from the atria into the lower pumping chambers (the ventricles). From the ventricles, blood is pumped to the rest of the body. In Afib, the electrical signals are fast and disorganised, with impulses ranging from 300 to 600 beats per minute (ref. link).

This causes a rapid and irregular heartbeat, and the heart may not pump as efficiently. While AFib can appear in a structurally normal heart, it can also be a sign of underlying cardiac conditions.

3. What are the different types of AFib?

Atrial fibrillation is known to occur for varying lengths in different people. They may be categorized as:

  • Paroxysmal AF : This type of AFib usually lasts more than a day but less than a week. Symptoms can feel mild or severe and suddenly start and then stop.
  • Persistent AF : Symptoms last more than a week at a time
  • Longstanding persistent AF : Symptoms last longer than one year
  • Permanent AF : Symptoms occur all the time and do not entirely go away.

4. Who is at risk for AFib?

Atrial fibrillation can occur at any age, but your chance of developing it increases as you grow older. As a result, AFib is most common in people over 65 years (ref. link). Other risk factors include high blood pressure, previous heart disease or heart surgery, chronic medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, kidney disease or lung disease, moderate to heavy alcohol use, obesity or obstructive sleep apnea.

5. Does Afib occur more in athletes? 

There seems to be a unique relationship between exercise and AF. Studies (ref. link) show that people who exercised moderately seem to have a lower risk of developing  Atrial fibrillation. On the flip side, those who participated in intense endurance sports had a slightly increased risk of Afib episodes.

Exercise-induced AF is usually seen in middle-aged athletes who have practised very intense endurance sports like marathon running, cycling or cross-country skiing for more than ten years.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine,  involving ​​ 70,478 participants, including 63,662 controls and 6,816 athletes, showed that the risk of AFib was 2.46 times higher among athletes than non-athletes.

Another study, from the European Society of Cardiology, observed that athletes were 5 times more likely to experience Afib than others in the study population.

Atrial fibrillation isn’t usually life-threatening or deemed serious in healthy people. Nevertheless, atrial fibrillation symptoms can be risky amongst those having diabetes, high blood pressure, or other heart-related diseases. Either way, the condition should be properly diagnosed and addressed by your doctor with appropriate atrial fibrillation treatment.

What causes athlete’s to be more likely to have Atrial Fibrillation? 

Athletes who train vigorously can have dynamic fluid shifts in the body, causing dehydration and changes in pH. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium may fall below normal levels, contributing to AFib.

After many years of high-intensity physical exercise, their heart muscles also undergo material changes that make them more susceptible to rhythm disorders. Stretching and remodelling of the heart, with dilation of the atrial chambers, and inflammation and fibrosis of the heart muscle are permanent changes that cause irregular conduction of the signals leading to irregular heartbeats.

How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?

The most widely used method of diagnosing Afib is an ECG. This may be through a standard 12 lead ECG, though it may not be the most effective as you must be undergoing an episode of Afib at the time of the ECG for it to be picked up. This method works well for patients in persistent or longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation.

However, if your episodes are intermittent, like in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, they probably won’t be recorded on the standard 12 Lead ECG. Instead, doctors may use a small portable electrocardiogram device, a Holter Monitor, for 24–48 hours to try and capture an Afib episode on the graph. In some cases, these abnormal heart rhythms may be so sporadic that they may be missed on both. In these cases, long term ambulatory ECG recordings can help capture rare instances of irregular rhythm.

If it can’t be caught the conventional way, many people wonder, How can I check for Afib at home?”

A regular heart monitor that captures only heart rate will not be adequate. Since the frequency of episodes of atrial fibrillation may increase on physical activity or exercise, a resting ECG probably won’t fit the bill either. Continuous monitoring of ECG using ECG wearables may be the perfect solution!

Consider buying Fourth Frontier’s revolutionary ECG fitness tracker that helps in keeping track of your heart rate.

*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.


Frequently Asked Questions:


What is the first-line treatment for atrial fibrillation?

The first-line of treatment for rate control in AF are Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. They are effective at rest and with exertion. Intravenous diltiazem or metoprolol is the most commonly used for AF along with a rapid ventricular response.

What triggers atrial fibrillation?

Doing things like drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, or being overweight and drinking lots of caffeine can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation.

How do you feel when you have atrial fibrillation?

The most noticeable sign of atrial fibrillation is heart palpitations. The heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering, or pulsating irregularly, often for a few seconds or perhaps a few minutes.

Can you live a long life with atrial fibrillation?

Though AF is a long-term condition, if addressed properly you can live a long and active life. Several decisions can help you control the condition, reduce your chance of stroke, and reduce any anxieties you may have.

How can I correct my atrial fibrillation naturally?

Some natural ways that can be helpful in atrial fibrillation are:

  1. Avoid stimulants and gluten
  2. Increase nutrients intake
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Supplements
  5. Do exercise and stress relief

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Atrial Fibrillation Heart Rate | Endurance Training | Heart Rate Monitor Device | Exercise for Heart Health | Resting Heart Rate | Heart Health | Best Heart Rate Monitor. | Increased Heart rate | Irregular Heartbeat causes | AFib and Heart

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK

Do you feel like you’re in a workout slump post- covid? Your energy levels are not what they were and you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself to exercise like you used to? Post-Covid Fatigue is REAL! And according to studies, you’re definitely not alone!

Covid-19 disrupted our way of life considerably over the last few years. But one of the most significant long term effects of Covid is the way it has changed our approach to health.

During the first few months of the lockdown, stay-at-home orders, closures of parks, gyms, and fitness centres made it difficult for us to continue with our fitness routines.

Data from studies done in early 2020 revealed that physical activity levels dropped dramatically in many countries. This was determined by analysing more than 19 million smartphone-based (ref. link), step-counting measurements taken over 1 year. Another study in 2021, found that people who used to have steady walking, running, and cycling habits before the pandemic, decreased their activity levels considerably.

As we start off 2022, with a new vaccine, a steadily declining number of Covid cases and easing up of restrictions around the world, people are now ready to go back to the way things were.

This may be more challenging than we realise! 

HOW DOES POST COVID FATIGUE AFFECT LONG-TERM HEALTH? 

Although Covid19 is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs first, studies have shown that it can cause long-lasting effects on our overall health.

Studies show (ref. link) that more than one-third of people affected by Covid could develop signs of Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). Another study revealed that fatigue and body pain after exercise were the most common symptoms of long covid, even after 7 months of the initial infection, (as shown in the figure below).

Post Covid Fatigue

Perhaps the most significant complication of the covid19 infection is its ability to directly affect our heart.

Research has shown that the virus does infect and damage cardiomyocytes or heart muscle cells, and interfere with their contraction. The inflammation in heart muscles is called myocarditis and it is known to occur even in patients who only had mild symptoms.  15% of the athletes (ref. link) at a US-based university developed myocarditis after Covid, while another study revealed that 78% of the people evaluated had cardiac involvement when they were infected, and nearly 60% of them still showed ongoing myocardial inflammation.

In addition, other studies showed that the risk of atrial fibrillation, sinus tachycardia, sinus bradycardia, ventricular arrhythmias, and atrial flutters all increased post covid. Data revealed that dysrhythmias were 1.69 times more likely to occur, relative to control groups, even 12 months after an acute Covid-19 infection.

Covid-19 fatigue is common and can persist for a few weeks into your recovery. That being said, if you had COVID-19 and continue to have bothersome symptoms (such as severe fatigue, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath) after the first 2 to 3 weeks, please consult your doctor. 

WHAT ARE POST COVID FATIGUE SYMPTOMS? 

It is common to feel tired and drained after any illness. However, the long term effects of covid are often quite severe. People suffering from post covid fatigue report feeling extremely tired doing otherwise routine activities, and this affects their quality of life and their ability to function normally.  Aside from post covid fatigue, patients also complain of brain fog, muscle aches and pains, and headaches, which are also called post-exertional symptoms, appearing when patients are extremely tired.

HOW LONG DOES LONG TERM EFFECTS OF COVID LAST? 

Fatigue is very common after any viral infection, and usually settles after 2 or 3 weeks. However, some people dealing with post covid fatigue can feel the effects for up to multiple months.

A WORD FROM THE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS

“I think the best advice about exercising after having COVID-19 is to be very careful — this is a challenging disease. No matter your age or your fitness level, it’s a good idea to discuss any physical activity plans with your doctor and proceed with caution.” – Dr  Michael Fredericson, MD, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Stanford Medicine in Palo Alto, California.

“COVID rarely kills young people who are fit,  but COVID can cause myocarditis. The risk of myocarditis with COVID is around 1 in 300. A diagnosis of myocarditis means compulsory rest from intensive exercise for at least 6 to 12 weeks.” – Prof. Sanjay Sharma, Professor of cardiology, Sports Cardiologist, St George’s, University of London.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO EASE YOUR WAY BACK INTO YOUR WORKOUT AFTER COVID. 

  1. Don’t exercise while you still have symptoms of covid-19. Focus on rest, good hydration, proper nutrition and follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
  1. If you had a mild illness or an asymptomatic Covid19 infection,  consider returning to activity after a 10 day isolation period. Start slow and gradually up the intensity. Listen to your body — especially if you have any existing heart issues
  1. If you have required hospitalisation for Covid19 you will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider before you get back to exercise.
  1. If you were diagnosed with Myocarditis you need medical clearance from your healthcare provider before returning to exercise. You could plan a gradual return to physical activity over the course of weeks or months to monitor for signs and symptoms of myocarditis.
  1. Monitoring your hearts response to exercise using a wearable can help build confidence as you return to fitness!

Furthermore, you can monitor your heart rate, using our heart health monitor – The Frontier X2.

*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:


How long can fatigue last after COVID-19 infection?

Recovery from COVID-related fatigue depends on how extreme your illness was. After a mild case of COVID-19 your fatigue may go about in 2-3 weeks. But in severe cases, you are likely to feel sluggish and exhausted for months.

Is fatigue normal after COVID?

Fatigue is a regular part of the body’s reaction to battling a viral infection such as COVID-19. Fatigue is likely to persist for some time after the infection has cleared. While researchers can’t definitively say how long COVID-19 fatigue should last, it is recommended that you see a doctor when you notice symptoms lasting for over a week.

What can I do to help with COVID-19 fatigue?

In order to cope with COVID fatigue you can start exercising, talk with someone about your frustrations, engage in productive thoughts, be empathetic with yourself, and find things that impact you positively.

What is COVID fatigue like?

Signs of Post-COVID fatigue are typically the same as the chronic fatigue syndrome that includes physical, psychological, and behavioural complications, including constant tiredness and feeling sleepy.

Can extreme fatigue be a symptom of COVID?

Given the wide range of symptoms of COVID virus, it is common to feel more than just fatigued after COVID-19. According to WHO, the most common symptoms of COVID are fever, cough, tiredness, and loss of taste or smell.

 

Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:

Heart Palpitations Causes | Increased Heart rate | Healthy Heart Tips | Arrhythmia Causes | Running Heart Rate | Heart Attack Causes | Best ECG Monitors | Heart Rate While Running | Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms

Frontier X2:

Smart Heart ECG Monitor in USA | ECG Machine Price in India | Best Heart Rate Monitor UK