Anyone else training while on blood pressure medication?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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by QuattroAssini

I am a recreational rider (and former racer) who is gradually getting back up to speed on road and mountain. I've been back riding seriously for approximately 10 months and typically only get to do 3 rides a week with a total of approximately 85miles). I don't have a powermeter, but I do ride with an HRM.

My primary goal this year is a 150 mile charity ride which I've been training for all year. The ride is in 2 weeks, so I've gained all the capability I'm going to gain before it.

However, I've found I have a significant difficulty with my heartrate. When I have had a dosage of my bloodpressure medication, I cannot get my heartrate above 65-75% of my max and as a result, I have absolutely no power and seemingly can't ride faster than a crawl....
If it has been over 6-7 hours since my last dose, my heartrate will immediately respond and I can get to max if necessary or to wherever I need it to be for the effort I'm trying to put out....

In otherwords, when the meds have worn off, I can ride and perform as always.

The bloodpressure med I'm on is a 'Beta Blocker' and all my research on the net has indicated that lowering of the heartrate is how it is supposed to do its job.

Does anyone have a similar situation, or has anyone worked their way through this problem (new meds, etc).


Ernie Bilko
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by Ernie Bilko

Hi Quattro,
Not sure if this reply will be much help as I'm no Doctor and often wondered what my riding would be like if I wasn't on BP medication.
I'm 43 years old 3rd cat racing cyclist, like to think I'm fairly competitiive, and have had decent results at 3rd cat level from time to time.
I've often wondered why my HR max is so much lower than my training partners & have definitely convinced myself it's down to the medication.
They just think I'm super fit :wink:
I've often queried this with my Doctor but pretty much all he'll say is that if my medication had a detrimental effect on performance then we'd know about it as many athletes must be on the same treatment!
However I'm NOT on Beta Blockers as you are.
I'm on Amplodipine Maleate tablets which is a Calcium Antagonist.
Apparently these work by relaxing the Blood Vessels, so that the Blood passes through them more easily. Sounds like they should be on the banned list!
However, one thing the Doc did say was that he wouldn't put me on Beta Blockers as these would be likely to have a detrimental effect.
Having said all of the above, I believe there's a third type of treatment which is the best to be on if you're an athlete. Unfortunately I can't remember what it is and it's years ago since I saw the article.
At least as far as I'm concerned, I've been on these for approx 15 years and never had any noticable adverse side effects, just often wondered if I'd be a better cyclist without them.
Sorry it's not a definitive answer but hope this helps.
Good Luck!

by Weenie

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I developed atrial fibrillation several years ago. Prior to surgery to finally correct the problem, some pharmocological therapies were attempted, including two different beta blockers. They were effective at preventing episodes of AF, but made me lethargic constantly. I experienced a proportionally similar reduction in max HR. Also similarly, it was just as difficult approaching the "new max HR" as it was my non-medicated max HR. There was also a coresponding reduction in performance. Riders I used to be able to crush just rode effortlessly away from me.

It was difficult to train, or even ride because I was always tired and it was difficult to keep motivated when my performance suffered to such a degree. Small hills looked like mountains. I've always loved vertical riding, but not when I was on beta blockers.

Some people are more sensative to beta blockers (and other meds) than others. Dosage also matters. Minimal doses did not prevent AF for me, so the dosage was raised to an effective level. Eventually, the case was made to do a radio frequency ablation procedure (surgery) to correct the problem.

Now, I'm able to train and ride as well or better than previously and no more aF problems.

Work with your current doc or seek another one. Explore the possibility of treating the root of your blood pressure problem. Maybe you can get off all meds. If that doesn't help, there are other drug therapies available. Some have less effect on athletic performance than others.

Just some friendly advise. Sorry for the mis spellings and typos.

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by mindisstrong

Maybe you should ask your doctor about your condition and medication.

Im only 21, have resting HR about 45 and train quite a bit, but my doc said i have high blood pressure and gave me capoten, and now avapro. Ive never had any probs getting my HR up.

i know that as your hr goes up your blood pressure also increases, but not at a proportional rate. i dont see any benefit of any drugs that would slow down your hr. that's dangerous in my view.

maybe some drug that decreases cholesterol, increases elasticity of arteries or helps the blood viscosity.

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by QuattroAssini

Thanks for the info and experiences. I may be in for another discussion with my doctor at my next checkup....

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by geraldatwork

I'm a 59 yo rider and I have been on a relatively mild dose of Altace for about 4 or 5 years. It is an ace inhibitor. My blood pressure isn't that high without it and I take the 2nd smallest dose possible to get me into the 120/75 range. It doesn't seem to affect my riding as I can get my HR up to around 185 up a tough hill and can keep it in the 170-175 range for about 10-15 minutes. I've had all of the tests, stress, echocardiogram so my relatively high HR at my age is OK.
"Really fast people are frustrating, but they make you faster. When you get faster, you might frustrate someone else."

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by veloman

Hi, I too am a recreational rider and former racer. I went on the blood pressure medication Benicar while training for road racing competition about 5 years ago. I take 20mg once a day and my blood pressure is usually about 110/70 so the medication and training do the job. I raced for 3 seasons while on the medication with no heart rate effects at all that I know of. Don't know much about the Benicar except my prescribing doctor is an avid cyclist and said he thought that would work well for me. Hope that helps.

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by mises

You should definitely ask your Dr if he has any valid reason for using a beta blocker as the primary BP treatment in your case. Generally ACE/ARB or Calcium channel blockers are least problematic for exercise. Beta blockers and diuretics are the worst.

Based on the response I would seriously consider shopping for another Dr as well.

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by QuattroAssini

Thanks for the responses everyone. Will definitely be in for a discussion with my Dr. next time I see him.

I'm not sure why he picked a beta blocker, however, I do know my problem is 2 part - first is the blood pressure problem, second is tied to the first- severe cluster headaches (painful enough that they have caused me to pass out from the pain :? )

I'll definitely discuss it with him and post what the results are...

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by dave99ag

Just curious, but what kind of high blood pressure are we talking about?

My doctor has had me monitor my BP due to high values (150s/80s) when I visit him. At home I average about 130/70. No low, but I don't think in the worry stage yet. He attributed my high BP at the doctor's office to whitecoat hypertension. ;)

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by QuattroAssini

I was in the emergency room range at times......... :? However, just walking around, I was around 150/110, etc.

I never figured I had high BP, then I started having the crippling headaches. I finally went to the Dr's office one day in so much pain that I passed out in the lobby when I got there..... My BP was very very high then.... The headaches are mostly gone now, but if I miss a dose of medicine, they come back immediately.

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by mindisstrong

hey quattro

just as a follow up...

I recently visited my doctor about my BP.
i asked him whether my medication, AVAPRO, has an effect on HR. I asked him this a few times and he said "NO." He said that AVAPRO is the most advanced BP medication in recent years.

Importantly, he said that the average BP nowadays is 130/80. slightly higher than this isnt life threatening of itself, but above this range and you're causing long term damage to your body. Higher than this and there may be long term damage to arteries that could lead to eye probs, liver failure etc [when you exercise your BP is above this range, but he said it's irrelevant because there are enzymes released during exercie that help the arteries].

so for anyone outside this "optimal" range, even if you experience only mild hypertension, perhaps it would be well-advised to see your GP.
[for people like me who have high BP, remember to take your medication daily (if thats what you're supposed to do)!].

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by QuattroAssini

Mindisstrong, its interesting that you post today. I had my visit with my GP today and discussed the problem with him. He immediately commented that the BP meds I'm on definitely are limiting my HR as that is how it works.

I suggested that I'd like to try something else, and he balked at the idea. He commented that my BP is now under control, but I am still having the headaches that started this whole escapade, but at a much reduced rate with the current meds (we tried several different combinations before I finally started to not have the bad headaches).

Based on my comment that I was able to exercise if I did not take the meds in the morning before I rode, he asked me to begin taking all of my meds in the evening before bed. He said if I tried this for a couple weeks and it did not work out, we would look for an alternative med. I'm going to try it and see if it works.

Oh yeah... my BP today was 117/70 and I had not taken my morning dosage (I was fasting for the blood test)

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by KB

From a magazine report I read on BP, Amplodipine, as taken by Ernie Bilko was specifically recommended. In fact they guy writing the article reckoned it would save over 40,000 lives in the UK over the next 5 years by changing people over from the usual stuff as stated by Mises drugsACE/ARB or Calcium channel blockers are least problematic for exercise. Beta blockers and diuretics are the worst. The guy reckoned that the diuretic effects actually put the body under greater strain in many cases.

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by retemple

I'm 29 w/ stage 1 hypertension, CKD, and proteinurea. I race. I see a subspecialist (a nephrologist that specializes in hypertension). My max HR is 202. No problem getting my HR up. My resting hr is around 50. I've been on lisinopril, captopril, norvasc, and diovan. I've had the best luck with diovan.

I've had a couple EKGs and other than pronounced early repolarization (indicative of good fitness) everything is good to go.

by Weenie

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