Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pre-Training Annual Physical - Stress Test

Because my brother had a heart attack, and because my heart rates are WAY above the charts, I always get an annual physical and check up with my cardio before running/training season.

This year, since I am almost 52, the cardiologist chose to include a stress test since my last one was two years ago.

I showed up and this is pretty much how it went.

RN plastered my chest and such with electrodes and wires. She also taped a blood pressure cuff to my right arm. THAT was different than the first time.

I noted that the room was very cold. She smiled.

I stepped onto the treadmill and she punched in my data.


  • HER: "Your target heart rate is 143 and your Max Heart rate is 169. We will probably stop somewhere in between."
  • ME: "Can we please go up to 180?"
  • HER: "180?! Your max is 169."
  • ME: "My average heart rate on my 3 to 6 mile runs is 167-169. My highest is usually between 178-180 unless I am racing then it gets to 181 or 182. It hit 191 once but I won't let that happen again."
  • HER: "If you are feeling okay when we get to those numbers, we will go to them. But please let me know if you feel any pain or get dizzy."


So - the first few phases are just walking at steep inclines as the machine speeds up. I was bored and yakking up a storm.  She took my blood pressure a few times during those phases.

Then the machine started at a running pace at 14% incline.

I was STILL fine, but starting to sweat. By the end of the 3 minute section though, my heart rate was in the high 160's and low 170's. She said it was the 14% incline that made it happen so fast.

Then the machine cranked up the speed again, still at a 14% incline. I was still talking. I was getting sweatier. At about 2 and a half minutes in, my heart rate got up to 180. She asked if I was okay and if she could take my blood pressure while I maintained that. "SURE" and still I was able to talk. But, it was getting hard to do that.

My blood pressure (while my heart rate was 180-182) was at 175/89.

She said that was "GREAT" for that level of intensity!!! Then when she was done, with just 10 seconds left to go before it sped up again I told her, "Okay. We can stop now."

She asked me what I was feeling when I told her we could stop. I told her that I felt like I was having a hard time getting a decent breath. "That's it?" Yeah. "No dizziness, pain or weakness?" "No. Just getting out of breath." I also commented it was so hard to breath with how hot and muggy the room was.

She reminded me that I had called it an icebox 20 minutes earlier. Oh yeah.

After I stepped off the treadmill, she sat me on the examining table. My heart rate dropped to 99 within minutes and she said that was indicative of being 'super fit'. I asked her, "Not bad for a fluffy old person, huh?" and she said, "Nope! Not bad at all!"

This was the FIRST time they ever let me go over 155 heart beats per minute on a stress test. I am glad I asked her to please let me keep going. I didn't know to ask two years ago.

ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR WHAT YOU WANT. 

If they say no, at least you tried.

Now I wait for the results - and I am not worried in the least. I even signed up for a second Half Marathon for this summer. Let the training begin!

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