A rapid pulse rate happens occasionally. When it happens, there are ways you can calm your racing heart.
Your heart rate measures not only your cardiac fitness but your overall well-being, too. A regular resting heart rate between 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm) means your heart is functioning as it should. Yet each individual differs. For example, athletes may have a slower heart rate and be perfectly healthy.
Sensing your pulse racing can be alarming. You want to lower it as soon as possible, especially if you notice your heart frequently beats faster than usual. With the help of your cardiologist and several easy-to-follow techniques, you can lower your rapid heart rate.
Why your heart rate rises
Occasionally, your heart rate rises temporarily in response to a particular situation, such as after a vigorous workout or a stressful event. Feeling nervous before a job interview or a significant social affair is normal. Drinking too much caffeine or being in a hot climate can also cause a spike in your heart rate. Once those circumstances end, your heart rate returns to normal. But how do you know if your racing heart is just a temporary occurrence or a more serious medical condition?
Generally, a resting pulse rate above 100 bpm at rest indicates a severe heart condition, most notably, atrial fibrillation or A-Fib. A type of arrhythmia or irregular heart rate, A-Fib occurs when the heart’s upper chambers (atria) fill with blood, resulting in a quickened heartbeat. As the blood pools, blood clots may form and cause a stroke. Over time, if the abnormal heartbeat isn’t treated, cardiac failure is possible because of the extra stress on your heart.
Immediate medical intervention is necessary if the elevated pulse is accompanied by chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and shortness of breath, as those symptoms may indicate a heart attack or stroke.
How to lower your heart rate
To check your resting heart rate, use this simple technique: Upon waking and before your morning cup of joe, place your index and middle fingers on your wrist and count the number of beats for 30 seconds. Multiply by two, and that’s your resting heart rate. Various heart monitors, such as fitness trackers and apps, also provide a snapshot of your pulse at a given time.
To quickly calm your heart, take deep breaths and try to relax. Moving to cooler temperatures can also help. A simple technique to reduce your heart rate at a moment’s notice is to hold your nose, so you breathe out of your mouth.
Longer-term, lowering your heart rate to a healthy level could be achieved by following these four tips:
Exercise More. Exercise strengthens the heart muscle and helps it function more efficiently, whether at rest or under stress. Walking and biking are two beneficial workouts for cardiovascular health.
Reduce Your Stress. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training can lower your body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), causing a racing heart. Make sure you get enough sleep, too. It’s a great stress reliever.
Eat More Fish. A heart-healthy diet revolves around fruits and vegetables. But if you want to boost your heart fitness and lower your heart rate, try eating more fish! And while you’re changing your diet, cut out caffeine and energy drinks to stabilize your heart rate.
Quit Smoking. Cigarette chemicals narrow your arteries, forcing your heart to beat faster. Quitting smoking will open the arteries for better blood flow.
To lower an abnormal heart rate, your cardiologist may prescribe medication. Another option is a pacemaker. The device senses the heart beating rapidly and sends a signal to reset its rhythm. With proper treatment, your heart rate will return to normal.
Listen to your heart
At Tri-City Cardiology, our team of physicians prides itself on patient-centered care. Contact us if you notice any abnormal heart rhythms, and we will listen to your concerns. Then, we’ll diagnose and treat your condition with the latest cardiac care. Contact us today for a consultation.