Diagnosing The Underlying Cause
Your doctor may use a variety of diagnostic tools to help diagnose your condition, including:
- Holter or event monitor. This is a smaller, portable EKG machine you wear for a set amount of time to help your doctor monitor your electrocardiographic signals.
- Electrocardiogram. Also referred to as an ECG or EKG, this diagnostic tool uses small electrodes to record the electrical activity of your heart. Your doctor can use the information collected to determine if heart abnormalities are contributing to your condition.
- Stress test. Sometimes called a treadmill test or excercise test, this can help diagnose people whose symptoms may be exercise related.
- A tilt-table test. This measures how your blood pressure and heart rate respond when you go from lying down to standing up. People dealing with fainting spells are usually candidates for a tilt-table test.
- Imaging tests. Imaging can be used to assess if there are any structural abnormalities in your heart that may be contributing to your condition. Possible imaging tests can include echocardiogram, CT scan, and MRI scan.
- Electrophysiologictesting. Done under local anesthesia, this procedure involves temporary electrode catheters being threaded through veins or arteries into the heart to record the hearts electrical signals.
Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan to treat and manage your condition.
Atria Ventricles And The Electrical Circuitry Of The Heart
The human heart consists of four chambers : the atria, which are the two upper chambers, and the ventricles, which are the two lower chambers.
The heart has a natural pacemaker, called the sinoatrial node, in the right atrium. This produces electrical impulses. Each one triggers an individual heartbeat.
As the electrical impulses leave the sinoatrial node, they cross the atria, making the atrial muscles contract. This contraction pushes blood into the ventricles.
The electrical impulses continue to the atrioventricular node, which is a cluster of cells. The AV node slows down the electrical signals, then sends them on to the ventricles.
In doing so, it allows time for the ventricles to fill with blood. When the ventricular muscles receive the electrical signals, they contract, pumping blood either to the lungs or to the rest of the body.
A problem with the electrical signals can result in a faster-than-normal heartbeat. This is tachycardia.
Tachycardia usually stems from a disruption in the normal electrical impulses that control the hearts pumping action, or the rate at which the heart pumps.
Depending on the type and cause of tachycardia, the following
- calcium channel blockers, such as diltiazem or verapamil
- beta-blockers, such as propranolol or metoprolol
- blood thinners, such as warfarin or apixaban
When To Seek Help
The burning question remains: What symptoms are worrisome enough that you should you see your doctor?
“If you notice that you have an elevated heart rate while at rest consistently above 100 beats per minute â but you aren’t sick, exercising or stressed â it is important to let your doctor know,” Dr. Ungerleider warns. “If you are experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, fluttering in your chest or chest pain, this could be related to a problem with your heart.”
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If Your Resting Heart Rate Is 100 To 105 Youd Better Read This Article To Find Out What The Bad News Is
The straight question is:
Can a resting heart rate of 100 to 105 beats per minute be harmful to the heart or in some way be tied to a future health ailment?
Yes there is emerging evidence that higher resting heart rates correlate with increased cardiovascular risk, says Alvaro Waissbluth, MD, an Ohio-based heart surgeon board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular diseases, and founder of Eat Tank, an educational nutrition initiative that provides simple tools and practical knowledge for better understanding food.
Dr. Waissbluth continues, There are many risk factors that influence ones risk of cardiovascular disease and they all have a cumulative effect.
If your resting pulse tends to be between 100 and 105, there are things you can do to lower it, but youll probably need some patience dont expect the lowering to occur overnight.
First off, stop smoking if you smoke. Smoking accelerates resting pulse. This speeding up does NOT strengthen the heart.
However, the elevated heart rate that comes from structured exercise does improve the heart.
Aerobic exercise three times a week, and strength training on other days, will lower a fast resting pulse.
Tip: If you use a treadmill, do NOT hold on. Pump your arms.
Consistency in your exercise is crucial: three times a week, week after week, month after month for the rest of your life.
Interval training should be high intensity or medium/high intensity for best results.
What Is A Target Heart Rate
According to the AHA , your target heart rate during moderate-intensity activities is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Vigorous physical activity should result in about 70 to 85 percent of your maximum.
So for 35-year-olds, a goal target heart rate is between 93 and 157 bpm .
The table below shows the target heart rate range and average maximum heart rate for different ages, based on information from the AHA.
- being an older adult
- problems with the conduction system of the heart
Borderline or occasional bradycardia may not need treatment. But prolonged bradycardia, or bradycardia thats not treated, can become more serious.
Certain underlying conditions are typically the true decider of what a dangerous heart rate is. If youre already living with heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart disease and notice a fluctuation in your heart rate, you should go to the doctor as soon as you can, as it could be a sign of a serious complication.
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How Will Your Doctor Find And Treat Bradycardia
Your doctor will ask about your usual activities and conduct a physical exam.
He or she may use an electrocardiogram to measure the electrical signals in your heart . A wearable, 24-hour monitor can tell your doctor how your heart performs over time.
Once your doctor decides you need treatment, he or she will try to rule out medications or other pre-existing conditions as causes. Sometimes changing medications or similar strategies can solve the problem.
If not, implanting a pacemaker via minimally invasive surgery is the only option to speed up your heart rate, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.
He notes that bradycardia isnt often an emergency, so doctors have time to choose the right treatment.
In general, bradycardia allows time for us to evaluate the condition and rule out if any other condition is responsible, he says. Then, we can adjust medications or take other steps if we need to.
Correlation With Cardiovascular Mortality Risk
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A number of investigations indicate that faster resting heart rate has emerged as a new risk factor for mortality in homeothermic mammals, particularly cardiovascular mortality in human beings. Faster heart rate may accompany increased production of inflammation molecules and increased production of reactive oxygen species in cardiovascular system, in addition to increased mechanical stress to the heart. There is a correlation between increased resting rate and cardiovascular risk. This is not seen to be “using an allotment of heart beats” but rather an increased risk to the system from the increased rate.
Given these data, heart rate should be considered in the assessment of cardiovascular risk, even in apparently healthy individuals. Heart rate has many advantages as a clinical parameter: It is inexpensive and quick to measure and is easily understandable. Although the accepted limits of heart rate are between 60 and 100 beats per minute, this was based for convenience on the scale of the squares on electrocardiogram paper a better definition of normal sinus heart rate may be between 50 and 90 beats per minute.
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Why Does My Resting Heart Rate Fluctuate
You now know that there are many factors that can cause resting heart rate fluctuations. Its important to think about all of these if you observe any resting heart rate changes, as its likely to be a short term change. Its relatively normal if your RHR fluctuates a lot and, for example, you are having a varied sleep pattern, experiencing stress, taking medication, changing your training schedule, or are affected by hot weather.
There is a wide range of normal when it comes to your RHR so yours fluctuate, it wont often be cause for concern. However, if your RHR is consistently over 100 beats per minute, then you could have tachycardia, which could be caused by a heart rhythm disorder. Alternatively, if youre not a trained athlete and your RHR is below 60 beats per minute and you are dizzy or short of breath, you could have bradycardia. In either of these cases, its important to speak to a doctor so they can look at why your RHR fluctuates.
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What Affects Resting Heart Rate
- Temperature: When temperature and humidity rise, your heart needs to pump more blood. Whereby your pulse may increase up to 5 to 10 bpm.
- Body position: Your pulse is usually the same when youre resting, whether youre sitting or standing. However, it may go up for a couple of minutes after you sit or stand.
- Emotions: Being stressed, excited, or upset can raise your pulse.
- Body Size: If youre obese your heart rate could be higher than average as your heart needs to work harder to circulate throughout your body.
- Medications: Drugs that block your adrenaline can slow your heart rate. Conversely, high doses of thyroid medication can raise it.
- Water: Being dehydrated raises your RHR .
- Type 2 Diabetes is associated with resting heart rate .
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Normal Resting Heart Rate For Adults
According to the American Heart Association , a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm . But some people may have a resting heart rate thats lower than 60 bpm and is still considered normal.
For example, athletes may find their heart rates are lower, sometimes as low as 40 bpm. Additionally, people taking certain medications, like beta-blockers, may also have a lower resting heart rate. Well explore more factors that can influence resting heart rate later on.
The table below shows the average normal resting heart rate for adults based on age.
Reasons Your Heart Rate Is High
Youve probably noticed that your heart rate rises when you exercise and that it drops when youre lying in bed. But does your heart rate ever feel elevated for no apparent reason?
Having an increased heart rate isnt a health condition in and of itself rather, its a symptom caused by any number of circumstances. It may be a reaction to something thats happening in your life, or it may be caused by a health condition.
When you feel your heart pounding in your chest unexpectedly, dont jump to conclusions that theres something wrong with your heart, but if the problem continues without an explainable and simple cause, see a doctor to discuss your concerns, says interventional cardiologist, Ali Moosvi, M.D.
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Increase In Resting Heart Rate Is A Signal Worth Watching
- By Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
When you sit quietly, your heart slips into the slower, steady pace known as your resting heart rate. An increase in your resting heart rate over time may be a signal of heart trouble ahead.
Your heart rate changes from minute to minute. It depends on whether you are standing up or lying down, moving around or sitting still, stressed or relaxed. Your resting heart rate, though, tends to be stable from day to day. The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high.
Many factors influence your resting heart rate. Genes play a role. Aging tends to speed it up. Regular exercise tends to slow your heart rate down. Stress, medications, and medical conditions also influence your resting heart rate.
Results of observational research studies support a link between health and heart rate. Researchers from Norway previously reported the results of a large study looking at changes in resting heart rate over 10 years. They recruited more than 29,000 people without any history or heart disease, high blood pressure, or any other type of cardiovascular disorder, and measured their resting heart rates when they started the study and again 10 years later. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
How to lower your resting heart rate
About the Author
Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Influencers Of Heart Rate For The Long
- Hyperthyroidism This disorder of the thyroid causes the heart to increase its rate as long as the condition is untreated. Medication, surgery and other treatments can treat hyperthyroidism and the heart rate will return to normal ranges.
- Congestive heart failure This heart problem is one wherein the heart must work extra hard to pump blood. This eventually will lead to heart attack.
- Arrhythmias These irregular heartbeats are inconsistencies in the speed of the hearts activity. The condition is usually due to salt imbalance in the body, heart attack or other problems.
- Nerve damage Often occurring in the peripheral nervous system branching into arms and legs, this condition affects nerves attached to the heart. Diabetes is sometimes a cause of this problem. The underlying condition must be treated.
- Anemia Low red blood cell count due to lack of enough iron or excessive bleeding can increase the heart rate as the heart works to supply less healthy blood throughout the body. This can be treated through medication or procedures such as infusion.
Pulse Rate Analysis
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Drugs Are Messing With Your Numbers
Certain medications can reset your heart rate readings and give you a new normal.
Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are the main ones that can lower a heart rate, says Taub.
Both relax your heart, which can slow it down. Thats not necessarily dangerous, but check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Caffeine, on the other hand, can ramp up a heartbeat in a hurry. Its often found in headache medications, and it lurks in certain food and drinks, like tea and chocolate.
Some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine, so they drink a coffee or an energy drink, and they immediately get elevations of their heart rate, says Taub.
Cutting back should help.
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What Is The Heart Rate
Heart rate or pulse rate is the number of times your heart beats in a minute. It is a simple measure to know how much your heart works during rest or activities.
Heart rate is one of the vital signs that are checked regularly whenever you visit your doctor, or when you get admitted to the hospital.
Your heart rate is lower when you are resting and higher when you are doing any kind of activity, or are feeling stressed or anxious.
When you exercise, your heart needs to work harder, which increases your heart rate. As soon as you rest, the heart rate starts decreasing gradually and returns to its normal level, usually within an hour.
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How Is Ventricular Tachycardia Connected To Vfib
Ventricular fibrillation usually begins with ventricular tachycardia.
Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally rapid heart rhythm that originates from a ventricle. It happens when abnormal electrical impulses travel around a scar from a previous heart attack. It occurs in patients with some kind of heart defect.
Ventricular tachycardia can happen and then go away about 30 seconds later, without causing any symptoms. This is known as non-sustained ventricular tachycardia.
If it continues for more than about 30 seconds, it can cause palpitations, dizziness, or loss of consciousness. If left untreated, ventricular tachycardia can lead to ventricular fibrillation.
Diagnosis of ventricular fibrillation is usually happens in emergency circumstances because the patient has lost consciousness.
The following diagnostic tools can confirm ventricular fibrillation:
- A heart monitor: This device reads the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat, and will detect either no heartbeat, or an erratic one.
- Checking the pulse: The pulse will be difficult to detect. It may either be very weak or absent.
Diagnostic tests can help to find out what caused the ventricular fibrillation.
How To Take Your Heart Rate
You can measure your heart rate by finding your pulse. The pulsating rhythm of your bloodyour pulsematches the movements of your heart and indicates your heart rate. Using your middle and index finger, press firmly in an area of your body that has a pulse. One of the most common places to take your pulse is on the inside of your wrist. Other body parts that reveal your pulse include:
- The side of your neck
- The pit opposite your elbow
- The base of your toe
Once you locate your pulse, using a stopwatch, begin counting each beat for 60 seconds. Alternatively, you can count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply your results by 4. This measurement indicates your approximate resting heart rate.
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