Many fitness enthusiasts use heart-rate monitors to guide them in their aerobic training intensity. But what if you’re on blood pressure meds or beta blockers? Many are known to lower resting pulse and reduce maximum heart rate. Can you still use a heart-rate monitor effectively? What’s the best way to determine maximum heart rate when you’re medicated?
Many blood pressure meds and beta blockers DO lower heart rate and DO limit maximum heart rate. If one has a natural, unmedicated resting pulse of 80 they might have a medicated, resting pulse of 60. If they had a maximum, unmedicated heart rate of 170 they might have a medicated, maximum heart rate of 150 – give or take.
So if you are using a heart rate monitor during training – which you still can and should – I’d suggest asking your doctor (or reading online) what you might expect in lowered heart rate on the dose of med you are. If you are 50 years of age then we might expect an unmedicated, max heart rate of around 170 (220 – age). So what might you expect being on meds? Ask your doc.
Another thing you could do is get a real, medical stress test or VO2 max test. That’ll tell you what your max is for sure – more reliably than asking your doctor.
If you are on heart meds, blood pressure meds, beta blockers etc don’t go out and do your own self-serve max heart rate test.
If it were me? I’d read about the drug I’m on and see what the “norm” is for heart rate impact. Then, as a start, if the common trend seems to be about 20 beats lowering effect I’d take 220 minus my age and then substract 20 from that. I’d use THAT as my “max” heart rate for calculations.
If my age is 50 then…
220 – 50 = 170
170 – 20 = 150 (my medicated max heart rate hypothetical)
There are typically five zones for heart-rate training:
- Zone 1: 50-59% of max
- Zone 2: 60-69%
- Zone 3: 70-79%
- Zone 4: 80-89%
- Zone 5: 90-100%
So now you’d be using 150 to determine your zones instead of an unmedicated 170 (assuming 50 years of age like I am).
But it DEFINITELY can still be done and you DEFINITELY can still benefit from a heart rate monitor during training.
* Always consult your physician prior to engaging in any exercise regimen if you are being treated for any medical condition whatsoever.