I noticed when I exercise my heart will beat really fast and strong (like it’s coming through my chest), but I can never feel my pulse. I did some research and I am curious, could I have an arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) or heart disease? Should I see a doctor or can I diagnosis it myself?

Thank you for your question. Heart disease is fortunately rare in teenagers. Some children are born with a birth defect of abnormal heart valves, a hole between 2 parts of the heart, or a difference in the shape of the chambers of the heart, called “congenital heart disease.” Congenital heart disease is usually noticed early in life. Occasionally teens will have a family history of rhythm problem or easy fainting that can be a serious heart problem. So you should definitely see your health provider if you have chest pain, fainting, or an abnormal heart beat during exercise, or a family history of rhythm problems.

Take a minute, put your hand over your heart, do you feel the “lub-dub-lub-dub” sound that your heart is making? When you exercise, your heart pumps more blood and oxygen to all the different parts of your body, which causes your heart rate to go up! It’s normal to feel your heart beating faster and stronger during and for several minutes after exercise, especially if you are doing an activity that includes running or quick total body movements. This type of exercise is called cardiovascular exercise and helps keep your health healthy. Teens are typically more active than adults and participate in more sports related activities than adults do, which helps keep the heart healthy and strong. Some arrhythmias can be diagnosed by listening to your heart beat (through a stethoscope, a tool doctors and nurses use to listen to your heart) or a radial pulse (two fingers on the outside of your wrist below your thumb where it bends), but it’s not reliable. Since your heart is beating hard, you should be able to find your pulse, although you may want to practice when you are just resting so you know what it feels like. Regardless, if you have concerns about your heart or body and something doesn’t seem quite right, you should talk with your health care provider (HCP).

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