When A Virus Turns Deadly: What You Should Know About Myocarditis
An inflammation of the heart muscle, myocarditis can be life-threatening if not treated in time. One young survivor shares his story.
As a third-year law student at the University of Michigan, Evan Johnson is focused on his education. But his thoughts sometimes wander to a few short months ago, when he came very close to dying.
It was an experience the 29-year-old says hell never forget and an outcome for which he is forever grateful.
Johnson was nearing the end of school finals last spring when he came down with a fever that seemed to come and go. He attributed it to the flu, bought over-the-counter medication and tried to concentrate on finals.
After nearly a week of exhaustion and difficulty breathing, Johnson went to a clinic at U-M for antibiotics. While there, his heart rate reached an alarming 140 beats per minute .
He was immediately sent to the emergency department at Michigan Medicine.
Heart Rate Increases When Sick
Increased heart rate when sick is normal as your body attempts to get rid of the illness. However, raised heart rate can likewise suggest something else.
For a healthy and normal adult who is resting, the heart should beat around 60 to 100 times within sixty seconds. Tachycardia is the name offered to the condition of raised heart rate when the person is resting. During tachycardia, the heart rate is either raised in the upper heart chambers or the lower heart chambers or in some cases in both the chambers.
Your Heart Rate Reflects Inflammatory Responses
Flu symptoms reflect yourbodys fight against the infection. When a virus like influenza is circulating through your body, your immune cells defend by releasing small proteins called histamines . This causes inflammation and symptoms like body aches, coughing, sneezing, and fever.
During inflammation, blood vessels expand and become more permeable. This allows white blood cells and proteins from your blood to move into the damaged tissues to help fight the infection. When your blood vessels expand, signals are sent to your brain to increase your heart rate and pump more blood to the inflamed regions . Your heart rate increases while youre awake and while you sleep, and generally continues until your symptoms improve. Wearables track this elevated rate, which is what you can see in your Cardiogram data.
Don’t Miss: Why Does Your Heart Rate Go Up When You Exercise
Hows Your Heart Rate And Why It Matters
When it comes to your heart rate, it’s a bit like the speed of your car. What you want is not too fast, not too slow, and not too erratic. In fact, most of the time, heart rhythm and pace are not things you need to think about. And unless something unusual is going on, you’re likely completely unaware of what your heart is doing.
Heart rate is important because the heart’s function is so important. The heart circulates oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. When it’s not working properly, just about everything is affected. Heart rate is central to this process because the function of the heart is directly related to heart rate and stroke volume .
Other Causes Of Elevated Heart Rate
Elevated heart rate when sick is actually your heart’s aid in order to quell the sickness. However, there can be other causes as well. Electrical signals produced and sent to the heart tissues are responsible for controlling the heart rate. The occurrence of tachycardia is a result of abnormal heart behavior which causes the heart to produce and send electrical signals at a more rapid rate.
Many things can contribute to malfunction in the heart’s electrical system. For example:
- Heart disease that damage heart tissues
- Sudden stress, such as a fright
- Disease or congenital abnormality of the heart
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol or caffeinated beverages consumption
- Abuse of recreational drugs, such as cocaine
Recommended Reading: How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate
What Is Body Temperature
The normal body temperature of a person varies depending on gender, recent activity, food and fluid consumption, time of day, and, in women, the stage of the menstrual cycle. Normal body temperature can range from 97.8 degrees F to 99 degrees F for a healthy adult. A person’s body temperature can be taken in any of the following ways:
- Orally. Temperature can be taken by mouth using either the classic glass thermometer, or the more modern digital thermometers that use an electronic probe to measure body temperature.
- Rectally. Temperatures taken rectally tend to be 0.5 to 0.7 degrees F higher than when taken by mouth.
- Axillary. Temperatures can be taken under the arm using a glass or digital thermometer. Temperatures taken by this route tend to be 0.3 to 0.4 degrees F lower than those temperatures taken by mouth.
- A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the ear drum, which reflects the body’s core temperature .
- A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the skin on the forehead.
Body temperature may be abnormal due to fever or hypothermia . A fever is indicated when body temperature rises about one degree or more over the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
What We Already Know About Predicting Infection Through Fitness Trackers
One of the most important measurements your fitness tracker takes throughout the day is your heart rate.
Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute, and a healthy heart rate means a healthy you. Heart rate varies not only from person-to-person, but throughout the day for each individual. Since your wearable device continuously tracks your heart rate throughout the day, it eventually comes to learn your average heart rate creating a baseline representing what’s normal for you. This means that your fitness tracker can also identify when your heart rate fluctuates from its baseline.
Most of the time, heart rate fluctuations are a natural part of your day a response to sleep or activity . In fact, your device relies on these heart rate fluctuations to help determine how well you slept or how hard you worked during an exercise.
But, unexplained fluctuations in your heart rate could signal a variety of health issues, including an infection.
So, what we do know about wearables and predicting COVID-19? Overall, not much yet but we’re definitely learning.
Read Also: How Is A Heart Attack Treated
Elevated Heart Rate Most Likely Caused By Medical Condition
May 6, 2011
What is sinus tachycardia? What causes it? How is it treated?
Sinus tachycardia is the term used to describe a faster-than-normal heartbeat a rate of more than 100 beats per minute versus the typical normal of 60 to 70 beats per minute. Well over 99 percent of the time, sinus tachycardia is perfectly normal. The increased heart rate doesn’t harm the heart and doesn’t require medical treatment.
The term sinus tachycardia has nothing to do with sinuses around the nose and cheeks. Rather, it comes from the sinus node, a thumbnail-sized structure in the upper right chamber of the heart. This structure controls the heart rate and is called the heart’s natural pacemaker.
The sinus node signals the heart to speed up during exercise or in situations that are stressful, frightening or exciting. For example, a 10- to 15-minute brisk walk typically elevates the heart rate to 110 to 120 beats per minute. Also, the sinus node increases the heart rate when the body is stressed because of illness. In all of these circumstances, the heart rate increase is a normal response.
Likewise, the sinus node signals the heart to slow down during rest or relaxation.
For some patients, the elevated heart rate is the only symptom. Some have a lifelong history of sinus tachycardia in the 110 beats per minute range, and they lead a normal, healthy life. And often the inappropriate sinus tachycardia will improve in time without treatment.
Is A Fast Heart Rate Always A Cause For Concern
There are several different possible causes of an elevated heart rate. While some causes are more worrisome to cardiologists, there are other causes that can be addressed by making lifestyle changes.; Some of these include excitement , dehydration, and even the consumption of nicotine or energy drinks.
There are times that having an elevated heart rate makes sense. For instance, if you are fighting a fever or getting over the flu, or are in the process of recovering from a surgery, a fast heart rate is your bodys way of saying it is working. Its important to monitor your heart rate during these times, but do not become immediately alarmed.
Don’t Miss: What Branch Of Medicine Deals With Heart Disease
What Others Say About Heart Rate Increasing When Sick
Some people experience elevated heart rate when sick and opine that this typically takes place to them when their body is combating an infection. Here is one patient outlining his experience of higher heart rate when sick and here is what he needs to share:
- My heart rate soared really rapidly while I was experiencing pharyngitis and my parents wound up calling the doctor after seeing me short of breath. When I told the doctor that I felt that my heart was beating too rapidly which I was feeling terrified, the doctor responded that this is normal for the heart when the body is battling an infection. And right on hint, as quickly as the body got rid of the infection, my heart began beating generally once again.
Another individual who experienced elevated heart rate had this to say:
- I have actually been pretty worried over the past couple of weeks and this has actually resulted in frequent panic attacks. I have been seeing that whenever I am very nervous or going through a bout of anxiety attack, my pulse starts racing. One fine day, I had a sore throat and my heart rate became really high just as I moved a bit to go to the bathroom. My doctor informed me that there was no genuine cardiac issue and that the tachycardia was in fact brought on by anxiety.
Lets First Say What The Vital Signs Are:
- Blood pressure
One thing that I want everyone to know is that normalvital signs are different for different ages.
Kind of like in the animal kingdom, where little animals like hummingbirds have usual heart rates of over 200 beats per minute and elephants have rates of 40 per minute: the larger the creature gets, the slower the heart rate is. Same deal in humans. A heart rate of 145 in a baby is perfectly normal, but when I see that number for a teenager I get very concerned, or at least need a reasonable explanation for it.
Also Check: How Do You Calculate Heart Rate
Things You Can Do To Help With Supraventricular Tachycardia
If your episodes of SVT only last a few minutes and do not bother you, you may not need treatment.
You can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your chances of having episodes, such as:
- cutting down on the amount of caffeine or alcohol you drink
- stopping or cutting back on smoking
- making sure you get enough rest
Your doctor may also be able to recommend some simple techniques to help stop episodes when they happen.
Could Your Fitbit Help Detect The Flu
Jan. 17, 2020 — Wearable activity monitors that also measure your heart rate could one day warn people they might be getting sick with an infection like the flu.
Doctors have long known that a higher resting heart rate — the number of times each minute the heart beats while a person is sitting or sleeping — can be a sign that the bodyâs immune system is ramping up for a fight.
For example, research has shown that young men with fevers had increases in their resting heart rate of about 8.5 beats per minute for about every 2-degree Fahrenheit increase in body temperature. Other studies have shown that a childâs resting heart rate can go up even more — between 10 and 14 bpm for every 2-degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature.
But thereâs a wide variation in whatâs normal from person to person, and doctors may not be able to pick up on it.
âWhen a doctor sees you, as long as your heart rate is between 60 and 100, we donât think about it. Thatâs within the normal population range,â says study author Steven Steinhubl, MD, a cardiologist and director of digital medicine at Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, CA.
âBut if we knew that my resting heart rate every day was typically 60, and I come to the doctorâs office and my resting heart rate is now 68 or 72. If we had the knowledge to say, âHmmm. Thatâs unusual.â Maybe thatâs a sign that something is going on. But weâve never really had that before,â he says.
Recommended Reading: What Does Heart Rate Mean
What Is My Role In Checking Out My Fast Heart Rate
If you are concerned about an elevated heart rate, make sure you arent currently dehydrated, and that you are being treated properly for any related medical condition.
If youve accounted for common causes of an elevated heart rate including reducing or eliminating caffeine and are still experiencing symptoms, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible.
What You Can Do
Additionally, you should plan to visit your doctor regularly for physicals. Not only is it good practice, but it can also help with early detection of things like high cholesterol or blood pressure abnormalities.
If you already have heart disease, you should carefully monitor your condition and stick to your treatment plan. Take all medications as instructed by your doctor. Be sure to promptly report any new or worsening symptoms.
Some additional preventative health tips to help keep your heart healthy and happy include:
- Find ways to reduce stress. Examples of ways to do this can include things like yoga or meditation.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Using too much caffeine can lead to increases in heart rate.
- Moderate your drinking. Women and men over 65 should only have one drink per day. Men under 65 should only have two drinks per day.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases your heart rate and quitting can help bring it back down.
- Be aware of medication side effects. Some medications can affect your heart rate. Always be aware of possible side effects before taking a medication.
Your heart is a muscular organ that works to pump oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the tissues of your body. The muscles of your heart contract and relax to push blood through your blood vessels.
Recommended Reading: How Does Exercise Affect Heart Rate
Myth: If My Heart Rate Is Normal My Blood Pressure Is Fine
Sometimes your heart rate and your blood pressure go hand in hand. For example, when you exercise, or get angry or scared, they both go up.
But they’re not always linked. If your heart rate is normal, your blood pressure may not be. It could be too high or too low, and you may not realize it.
Even if your heart rate seems fine, get your blood pressure checked regularly.
What Are The Common Symptoms
Doctors and scientists are learning new things about this virus every day. So far, we know that COVID-19 may not cause any symptoms for some people.
You may carry the virus for 2 days or up to 2 weeks before you notice symptoms.
Some common symptoms that have been specifically linked to COVID-19 include:
-Shortness of breath
-A cough that gets more severe over time
-A low-grade fever that gradually increases in temperature
Less common symptoms include:
You May Like: What Causes Heart Rate To Spike
What Is Considered A Fast Heart Rate
The definition of a fast heart rate differs depending on the age of the person experiencing it. Typically, it is defined as have a resting heart rate faster than 100 beats per minute for adults.
A fast heart rate is one that is unexpected for a certain level of physical activity. Usually, most adults resting heart rate usually lies in the range of 60-80 beats per minute, with some heart rates approaching 100 beats per minute.
Know Your Numbers: Heart Rate
The better you understand your heart rate, the more you can maximize your movement to give your heart a good workout.
What is your heart rate?
Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Your resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood you need because you’re not exercising. If you are sitting or lying down and you’re calm, relaxed and aren’t ill your heart rate is normally between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Other factors can affect your heart rate include:
- Air temperature When temperatures or humidity increases, the heart pumps more blood so you pulse or heart rate may increase.
- Body position Sometimes when going from a sitting to a standing position, your pulse may go up a little. After a few minutes, it should return to a normal rate.
- Medications that block adrenaline tend to slow your heart rate. Thyroid medication may raise it.
Why your heart rate matters
What’s considered normal?
Your target heart rate is the minimum heart rate in a given amount of time to reach the level of energy necessary to give your heart a good workout. To find your target heart rate to maximize your cardiovascular exercise, the first step is determining your maximum heart rate.
Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Your target heart rate for moderate exercise is about 50%85% of your maximum heart rate.
Averages by age as a general guide are:
What you can do
Read Also: Heart Rate When Having A Heart Attack