New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Videos
  • Comments/Replies

I Heart Running: A Case Study on Tachycardia in Sam the Runner

Co Authors:

James A. Carr
Department of Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University

Breanna N. Harris
Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University


"I Heart Running" is a case study in which students diagnose the cause of exercise-induced tachycardia in an otherwise healthy, 27-year-old female. The patient, Sam, is a long-distance runner and realizes that her exercising heart rate reaches over 200 beats per minute. As the story of Sam's encounters with her physician develops, students are given results from multiple laboratory tests and detailed patient background information.  Students are guided through the material with a series of questions with the ultimate goal of determining the cause of the exercise-induced tachycardia that Sam experiences. The case study is based on actual laboratory results and was designed for students in an upper-level undergraduate Human Physiology course. In this activity students will learn about heart rate, cardiovascular physiology, and oxygen carrying capacity, and factors which influence these concepts, as they try to diagnose Sam.

  • Explain how maximum heart rate is calculated, and understand how properties of cardiac muscles and the autonomic nervous system influence heart rate.
  • Understand the physiological control of heart rate and the associated changes that occur during exercise.
  • Understand the importance of oxygen carrying capacity in endurance activity
  • Compare and contrast patient symptoms to those which occur in specific diseases/disorders associated with tachycardia.
  • Understand, explain and interpret data from a complete blood count, fasting lipid panel, iron panel, metabolic panel, pregnancy test, thyroid function test, B12 and folate test, urinalysis, Bruce Protocol stress test, and echocardiogram.
Keywords: Tachycardia; heart rate; ECG; Electrocardiogram; exercise; cardiovascular; running; cardiac myocyte; SA node; anemia; cardiac output; Bruce Protocol
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Directed, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Anatomy   Biology (General)   Nursing   Physiology   Sports Science  
Date Posted: 8/27/2015
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  Echocardiogram hhmi/
This video clip provides a live demonstration of an echocardiogram, with a description of the parts of the heart that are visualized. Running time: 4:45 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: