Dysautonomia/Fast Heart Rate Support Chat?

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with POTS after a tilt table test. I was iffy on the diagnosis because my heart rate never seemed to get that high, but I was also in pretty good physical shape then (29 years old, turn 30 next month, rode all the time, was fairly active, healthy weight, etc).

Now, I’ve lost pretty much all of my fitness after barely riding or being active for a year (both for covid avoidance reasons and anxiety/panic attack reasons). Earlier this year, I started trying to go back out to the barn more to ride. I found that now, my heart rate would spike to 150s just walking around the barn and grooming/tacking up, and by the time I started trotting it would be in the 170s to 180s. That seemed insanely too high to me and quite honestly freaked me out, so I went back to a walk and have barely ridden since. Every time I go out to try, I’m hitting high 150s before I even get on the horse, and it just didn’t seem like a good idea to push it. I hoped that maybe the fitbit was just reading it too high, but nope, checked it manually several times and if anything it reads too low sometimes.

Anyways, talked to cardiologist, had EKGs and stress tests, everything normal, cardio not worried about it. No pain whatsoever, maybe a bit of dizziness and shortness of breath when it happens but that could just be from being anxious about it. I’m now wondering if maybe the POTS diagnosis was more relevant than I initially thought, I’m noticing that on bad days I can go from low 60s sitting down to 120s when I get up to walk around.

I don’t really have a question or anything, more just seeing if anyone has anything similar they are dealing with. It really helps me to be able to talk to people that are going through it too, so trying to find other riders. It’s just sucked, I have this crazy heart anxiety now. I’m finally to where I can see it get to the 150s without worrying, but I walked around on my horse bareback today for all of five minutes and it was galloping along in the 160s at least. From walking. On my super safe pony that I am not the least bit worried to ride. I have no anxiety about the actual act of riding, I just don’t trust my body anymore. I’m sure a lot of it is the heat, but it still makes me so nervous.

If you read this far, thanks for listening and sorry for the novel. Hopefully there are some here who can relate or commiserate.


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The heat has always been a major contributor for me. Your superficial blood vessels dilate with the summer heat. It makes maintaining your blood pressure even more difficult for your body, so when you can’t maintain blood pumping to important parts due to floppy blood vessels, your body jacks your heart rate up to take care of the problem. What it’s always meant for me is that some days I couldn’t ride. If leaning down to pick my horse’s feet blacked out my vision, that was my sign to go home. Riding at the coolest part of the day, hydrating well, and getting plenty of salt held the problem at bay, but there was never any fixing it.

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Do you notice an elevated HR when you aren’t riding or exercising? I’ve noticed that even when I’m not necessarily doing anything physically demanding, but sometime stressful or anxiety inducing, my HR is elevated then too. I can be sitting down waiting for a class to start and my rate is like 140.

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Mine is mostly just standing and moving around. Once I sit down, it goes back down. Though apparently sitting on a horse doesn’t count :joy: it varies day by day though, sometimes I can do lots of stuff and it barely goes over 120, and other days I can stand up and walk to the kitchen and it’s 130. I haven’t quite figured out what causes the bad days. Though I’m noticing the nights I dont get much sleep it tends to be worse the next day.

Mine has hit 200s which is no fun. Regular exercise has been the most helpful. Some people suggest compression stockings & hydration, but compression didn’t help much. Stress like not getting enough sleep or being on my feet too long causes flares.

In my case, barn chores has been the form of exercise that has worked the best for me. Cleaning up manure, feeding & moving hay.

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Mine hits the upper 180s sometimes. When I ride I make sure to stay hydrated, but that doesn’t seem to bring it down. Outside of riding, my preferred method of exercise is weightlifting (with actual weights or lifting my own body weight) because my heart doesn’t seem to go bananas when I’m lifting. Cardio on the other hand, WOOF! I can do it on a horse, probably because it keeps my mind focused and it’s fun, but put me on a treadmill and the combination of boredom, anxiety and high heart rate have me saying NOPE NOPE NOPE! I can handle yoga just fine and find it pretty relaxing, but I can’t do sun salutations bc moving too fast from down to up makes me lightheaded.

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I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m hoping that getting fitter will help, though it’s kinda slow progress (throw panic attacks and a bit of agoraphobia in thanks to the pandemic and even going for walks outside is unnerving). I’m currently just trying to desensitize myself to it being a bit high. I’m about to where it can be in the 140s and I’m okay, sometimes 150s. Higher though and I’m like nope, gotta stop.

I was hoping to start getting out and about more, getting out to the barn more, be more active, etc, especially being vaccinated. But then, Delta started going crazy here. Soooo back to being basically a hermit for a bit. :grimacing:

Have those of you with those problems tried biofeedback, where you learn to control somewhat your heart rate?

Those that prefer their alone time may reflect on this:


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Never heard of it, though I do have a few strategies to help bring it down. They haven’t been much help at the barn though, not sure if its the heat or what.

I’ll look into that though, I’m curious what it is.