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Heart attacks while on treadmills: 10 reasons why this may happen as per doctors | Health


In recent years, cases of young people succumbing to heart attack have increased. People losing their life while in gym due to heart attack is also one of the recent trends that is being noticed. A young man recently lost his life after having a heart attack in gym. The shocking video has put spotlight on heart health and its relation to workout. While exercise in general is considered good for the heart, sudden, and intense workout can be detrimental. Doing a workout without warm-up or using the treadmill even when one is having symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, breathlessness etc can put one at risk of heart attack. Then there are underlying heart conditions that could be at play when a person suddenly suffers a heart attack at treadmill. (Also read: 8 signs that your body is warning you against hitting the treadmill)

Heart attacks while exercising on treadmills have raised concerns among medical experts. (Freepik)
Heart attacks while exercising on treadmills have raised concerns among medical experts. (Freepik)

“Heart attacks while exercising on treadmills have raised concerns among medical experts. According to doctors, several factors contribute to this phenomenon. Firstly, individuals who are not accustomed to regular exercise may push themselves too hard, leading to an increased risk of cardiac events. Secondly, sudden strenuous activity can cause a surge in blood pressure and heart rate, potentially triggering a heart attack in those with underlying cardiovascular issues. Additionally, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances during intense workouts may exacerbate these risks. It’s crucial for individuals, especially those with pre-existing heart conditions, to undergo a thorough medical evaluation before embarking on a treadmill exercise regimen. Furthermore, doctors emphasize the importance of gradual progression, proper hydration, and regular monitoring of vital signs during treadmill workouts to minimize the risk of heart attacks,” says Dr. Dixit Garg, Consultant Cardiology, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram.

Heart attacks that occur while someone is on a treadmill can happen for a variety of reasons, and doctors typically consider several factors that may contribute to this unfortunate event:

Dr. Vishal Rastogi, Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road, New Delhi lists the following reasons for sudden heart attacks on treadmill.

  1. Underlying heart conditions

One of the primary reasons is the presence of underlying heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), which narrows the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle. When you exercise on a treadmill, your heart has to work harder, and if there’s reduced blood flow due to blockages in these vessels, it can trigger a heart attack.

2. Overexertion

Pushing yourself too hard during exercise, especially if you’re not accustomed to regular physical activity, can put extra stress on your heart. This can lead to an acute heart attack, especially if your heart is not used to the increased demand for oxygen and nutrients.

3. Failure to warm up

Not properly warming up before intense exercise can strain the heart. Sudden, vigorous activity can cause a rapid increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which may be too much for some individuals to handle, particularly if they have existing heart issues.

4. Stress and anxiety

Emotional stress and anxiety can also play a role. Exercising while highly stressed can cause a surge in stress hormones like adrenaline, which can put extra strain on the heart.

5. Age and genetics

Age and genetics can also contribute. Some people may be genetically predisposed to heart problems, and age can increase the risk of heart disease, making older individuals more susceptible.

Dr Ashish Mishra, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road adds more factors to the list:

6. Dehydration

Inadequate hydration can lead to thicker blood, making it harder for the heart to pump, potentially triggering a cardiac event.

7. Improper technique

Incorrect treadmill usage, such as improper posture or excessive speed, can strain the heart and lead to injuries.

8. Ignoring symptoms

Ignoring warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness while using a treadmill can be dangerous. These symptoms should not be taken lightly.

9. Age and gender

Older individuals and men tend to be at a higher risk of treadmill-related heart attacks. It’s important for these groups to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare provider before starting an intense exercise routine.

10. Lack of supervision

Exercising alone on a treadmill without anyone nearby who can provide assistance in case of an emergency can be risky.

“To reduce the risk of heart attacks on treadmills, individuals should consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a new exercise regimen. They should also start slowly, gradually increase intensity, stay well-hydrated, and be attentive to any warning signs from their body. Having an emergency stop button and practicing safe treadmill usage can further minimize the risk associated with this exercise equipment. Overall, awareness, preparation, and responsible exercise habits are crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health during treadmill workouts,” says Dr Mishra.


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