• You're all caught up!

Can Exercise Induced Asthma Cause High Heart Rates?

author image Chris Dinesen Rogers
Chris Dinesen Rogers has been online marketing for more than eight years. She has grown her own art business through SEO and social media and is a consultant specializing in SEO and website development. Her past work experience includes teaching pre-nursing students beginning biology, human anatomy and physiology. Rogers's more than 10 years in conservation makes her equally at home in the outdoors.
Can Exercise Induced Asthma Cause High Heart Rates?
A bronchodilator can reduce the constriction of airways caused by asthma. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Asthma is a common respiratory condition that is triggered by an irritation of the respiratory system. On any given day, 30,000 individuals may experience an attack, estimates the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. It affects more Americans than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. In the case of exercise-induced asthma, activity acts as the trigger.

Panic Factor

Can Exercise Induced Asthma Cause High Heart Rates?
Your reaction to an asthma attack can raise your heart rate. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

If you have undiagnosed, exercise-induced asthma, the first time you experience an attack can cause you to panic. Symptoms that accompany an attack include tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Without knowing better, you may fear that you are experiencing a heart attack, which would naturally lead to an increase in heart rate. Airborne allergens such as pollen may worsen your symptoms, fueling your panic and high heart rate.

Oxygen Deprivation

When you have an exercise-induced asthma attack, your body responds by initiating an inflammatory response. Inflammatory cells release histamine which causes constriction of blood vessels. Muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes in the lungs will spasm, compounding the feelings of shortness of breath. Mucus will also build up in your airways. All these effects contribute to an impairment of the body to deliver oxygen to the cells. As a result, the heart may race to keep up with the body's need for oxygen. The cardiovascular system will work harder to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.

You Might Also Like

Other Factors

Can Exercise Induced Asthma Cause High Heart Rates?
Air pollution can aggravate asthma symptoms. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Particulate matter in the atmosphere can also play a role. During an attack, the systems of your body are compromised in their ability to deliver oxygen to the cells. If you are exercising in humid or smoggy conditions, each breath you take contains less oxygen. The combination of the two will elevate your heart rate as it attempts to perform its function. The combination of humidity and smog is especially problematic. Humidity will cause particulate matter to swell, further depriving your body of much-needed oxygen.


Asthma is incurable but controllable. You may find that certain situations or activities trigger an exercise-induced attack. Your awareness can provide the key to preventing further attacks by avoiding these situations. You may want to refrain from training outdoors if the air quality is poor on a given day. You can also use a bronchodilator to avoid the complications of bronchial constriction which can cause you to panic and elevate your heart rate. Having exercise-induced asthma is not a reason for giving up exercise. You merely have to take the necessary precautions to keep your condition under control.

Related Searches

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media