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What Can Possibly Trigger Heart Attack While Running On Treadmill: A Cardiologist Explains

While cardio exercises like running on the treadmill is considered good for the heart, in some instances, it can trigger heart problems.

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: Sep 23, 2023 14:06 IST
What Can Possibly Trigger Heart Attack While Running On Treadmill: A Cardiologist Explains

Onlymyhealth Tamil

Physical activity is a great way to stay in shape and support your cardiovascular health. Studies have found that aerobic and cardio exercises can actually strengthen your heart muscles and minimise the risk of heart disease. However, incidents of people succumbing to heart attacks while running on the treadmill or working out in the gym have got many worried. Recently, in shocking CCTV footage, a man in UP's Ghaziabad was seen suffering from a heart attack while walking on a treadmill at a gym. The man was reportedly 21 years old and a first-year student at an engineering college. 

In an interaction with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr LK Jha, Associate Director and Head Unit-II– Cardiology, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, says heart attacks during treadmill workouts are relatively uncommon, but can occur due to a combination of factors. 

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Why Heart Attacks Occur During A Treadmill Run

According to Dr Jha, people who are not accustomed to regular intense exercise or those with pre-existing heart conditions can experience additional stress on the heart if they indulge in vigorous physical activity, such as running on a treadmill. This means that people who lead a predominantly inactive lifestyle may have a diminished tolerance for strenuous exercise.

Another factor that can raise one’s risk of a heart attack during exercise include atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls. Dr Jha explains that the condition can constrict blood flow to the heart muscles, culminating in a heart attack during exercise.

Unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, eating fatty foods, and leading a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. 

Furthermore, elements like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity, and diabetes can also heighten the risk of experiencing a heart attack while exercising, the doctor adds. 

How To Mitigate The Risk 

Here are some ways to lower the likelihood of a heart attack during treadmill exercise:

  • Before starting a new exercise routine, seek advice from a healthcare provider, particularly if you have underlying health issues
  • Gradually increase your exercise intensity to allow your body to adapt effectively
  • Do not excess your physical capacities and heed your body's signals; do not ignore chest pain, dizziness, or extreme fatigue during exercise
  • Regulate blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, and manage conditions like diabetes under the guidance of a doctor
  • Engage in regular exercise and build endurance
  • Adopt a heart-healthy diet that includes ample fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
  • Quit smoking as it can significantly diminish the risk of heart attacks

Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

While heart attack symptoms may vary from person to person, here are some common signs to be aware of:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain radiating to the arm, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Profuse sweating, often accompanied by cold sweats
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Unexplained, extreme tiredness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Indigestion or stomach pain


In light of a heart attack, seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services. Note that symptoms can differ between individuals, and not everyone experiences all of the above-listed symptoms during a heart attack. If you’ve just recently become a fitness enthusiast, make sure you understand your exercise tolerance level. Do not exert yourself, especially if you’re 50 years and older, have a pre-existing heart condition, or a family history of cardiovascular illness.