Harvard Heart Letter

Will exercising less vigorously fix my heart rhythm problem?

Q. I'm a fit 61-year-old who had bypass surgery 15 years ago. Recently, I've been having rapid heartbeats (what my doctor calls supraventricular tachycardia) during or just after vigorous exercise. Should I tone down my exercise?

A. First, congratulations on your commitment to staying physically fit.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an umbrella term for several different rapid and uncoordinated heart rhythms that occur above the ventricles, in or around the heart's upper chambers (atria). Two of the most common SVTs are atrial flutter — a fast but usually regular heartbeat — and atrial fibrillation, a chaotic rhythm that increases the chances of having a stroke.

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