A 30-year-old man in Nantou County was in the gym recently and suddenly started experiencing lightheadednness and temporary vision loss. After leaning against a wall and resting for a while he started feeling better, but the experience scared him, and he went to the hospital.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Nantou Hospital, the problem was most likely caused by the Valsalva phenomenon, leading to a sudden drop in his blood pressure; in these circumstances there is no need to seek medical treatment, and the symptoms should improve after a little rest. The hospital added that people doing weight training should not push themselves too much.
Many people, when exerting themselves physically, can develop headaches or feel faint, due to insufficient blood circulation and lack of oxygen being delivered to the brain as a result of low blood pressure. There have been instances in the past of people lifting weights suddenly fainting and falling backwards.
Photo courtesy of Nantou Hospital
Activities such as weight training, lifting heavy objects, straining on the toilet, coughing, vomiting and sneezing that involve holding one’s breath can all lead to the symptoms observed when doing the “Valsalva maneuver,” such as temporary dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations and even temporary feeling of wanting to faint.
This is due to loss of blood circulation in the brain or other parts of the body caused by low blood pressure, leading to a lack of oxygen to the brain. If people start to see stars or feel dizzy — both symptoms of the Valsalva phenomenon — during exercise or weight training, they should take a rest and try to breathe regularly, and they should recover in one or two minutes. If the symptoms persist, they should seek medical attention.
(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
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