How To Lower Your Heart Rate In The Moment
If your heart rate has seemingly spiked without cause, there are a few things you can do to bring it back down to a normal level:
- Make sure your surroundings are cool and comfortable. High temperatures and humidity can increase blood flow and heart rate.
- Emotional upset can raise your heart rate. Slow, measured breathing can help bring it back down.
- If youre going from sitting to standing, make sure to rise slowly. Standing up too quickly can bring about dizziness and cause your heart rate to increase.
Other approaches can be effective in lowering your heart rate in the short term and over time.
Practicing mindfulness can help lower your heart rate in the moment, as well as lower your overall resting heart rate. After a 12-week mindfulness course, participants in one study had lower heart rates overall and were able to physically cover more distance during a standard six-minute walk test.
If youre familiar with yoga, practicing a few poses may also help lower your heart rate. Research also suggests that practitioners of yoga can develop the ability to voluntarily lower their heart rate.
What Are The Symptoms
A very slow heart rate may cause you to:
- Feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Have chest pain or a feeling that your heart is pounding or fluttering .
- Feel confused or have trouble concentrating.
- Faint, if a slow heart rate causes a drop in blood pressure.
Some people don’t have symptoms, or their symptoms are so mild that they think they are just part of getting older.
You can find out how fast your heart is beating by . If your heartbeat is slow or uneven, talk to your doctor.
How Is It Treated
How bradycardia is treated depends on what is causing it. Treatment also depends on the symptoms. If bradycardia doesn’t cause symptoms, it may not be treated. You and your doctor can decide what treatment is right for you.
- If damage to the heart’s electrical system causes your heart to beat too slowly, you will probably need to have a pacemaker. A pacemaker is an implanted device that helps correct the slow heart rate.
- If another medical problem, such as hypothyroidism or an electrolyte imbalance, is causing a slow heart rate, treating that problem may cure the bradycardia.
- If a medicine is causing your heart to beat too slowly, your doctor may adjust the dose or prescribe a different medicine.
The goal of treatment is to raise your heart rate and relieve symptoms. For certain types of bradycardia, treatment may help prevent serious problems. These problems include fainting, injuries from fainting, and even death.
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When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are More Serious
Irregular heartbeats change the amount of blood that flows to the lungs and other parts of the body. The amount of blood that the heart pumps may be decreased when the heart pumps too slow or too fast.
Changes such as atrial fibrillation that start in the upper chambers of the heart can be serious, because they increase your risk of forming blood clots in your heart. This in turn can increase your risk for having a stroke or a blood clot in your lungs . People who have heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart attack should be more concerned with any changes in their usual heart rhythm or rate.
Fast heart rhythms that begin in the lower chambers of the heart are called ventricular arrhythmias. They include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These types of heart rhythms make it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to the brain or the rest of the body and can be life-threatening. Ventricular arrhythmias may be caused by heart disease such as heart valve problems, impaired blood flow to the heart muscle , a weakened heart muscle , or heart failure.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include palpitations, feeling dizzy or light-headed, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and fainting or near-fainting. Ventricular fibrillation may cause fainting within seconds and causes death if not treated. Emergency medical treatment may include medicines and electrical shock .
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
How Do You Find Your Pulse
The easiest place to find your pulse is in your wrist.
- Turn your hand so that your palm is facing upwards.
- Now place the three middle fingers from your other hand over your wrist below the base of your thumb.
- Press lightly to feel the pulse under your fingers. If you can’t feel anything press slightly harder.
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Maneuvers To Slow The Heart
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is a type of fast heart beat that may or may not have serious consequences. In PSVT, the heart beat speeds up suddenly and unexpectedly, occurring as distinct episodes lasting for seconds to hours.
Many people with this condition are taught physical maneuvers to quickly lower their heart rate and make a trip to the emergency room unnecessary. They include bearing down as if having a bowel movement, coughing, swallowing or placing your head between your knees. However, these maneuvers should only be attempted if your doctor has recommended them.
What To Expect At The Doctors
Your doctor may use a variety of diagnostic tools to help diagnose your condition, including:
- 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.
- 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.
- Laboratory tests. Your doctor may order blood tests to determine if your condition is caused by something such as an electrolyte imbalance or thyroid disease.
Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan to treat and manage your condition.
Depending on the findings from the diagnostic tests, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist. A cardiologist specializes in treating and preventing diseases of the heart and circulatory system.
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Health And Performance Considerations
Higher heart rates may be an indication of poor heart function and higher than usual stress being placed on the hearts ability to circulate blood. This may further indicate heart disease conditions.
From a performance stand point knowing specific heart rate training zones can optimize our bodys ability to adapt to performance requirements. Determining these zones can be done through many different methods, including VO2 or lactate testing, formulas and general training regimens. It then becomes necessary to monitor intensity in order to optimize your chances for success. To monitor your intensity there are several methods available to you. First is the perceived exertion method in which you rate your perception of how hard you are exerting yourself during a workout. The acronym for this is RPE . The scale on which to base your perceptions range from 1 – 10. See below.
The scale can be broken down as follows:
Raw Garlic And Other Herbs
Several herbs help benefit heart health, including cilantro, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, and raw garlic. Research shows that garlic benefits people with uncontrolled hypertension. The polysulfides in garlic promote blood vessel health, blood pressure reduction, and hence also heart rate regulation. Garlic could also reverse early heart disease and plaque buildup in the arteries.
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Sleep And Coronary Artery Disease
People with obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have higher rates of coronary artery disease . There are two main reasons why this may occur:
CAD limits the flow of blood due to narrow arteries. This prevents the right amount of oxygen from reaching the heart. Sleep apnea also causes the blood oxygen level to drop during pauses in breathing. This leads to a rise in the heart rate and blood pressure. An extra strain is put on the heart. The amount of oxygen sent to the heart decreases at the time when the heart needs more oxygen. Studies have shown that the presence of OSA increases the risk of death from CAD. But if the sleep apnea is treated, death due to CAD is reduced.
What Is A Normal Resting Heart Rate
The resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood when you are not exercising. What is a normal resting heart rate? A normal resting heart rate, when you are calm, relaxed, and healthy, will range between 60 and 100 beats per minute for adults. That being said, a normal heart rate will vary from person to person, and throughout a persons day.
A heart rate lower than 60 beats isnt necessarily a problem. Factors that affect heart rate include drugs like beta-blockers, body position, and anxiety or stressful emotions. A lower heart rate is also common in athletes and those that get lots of physical activity. The heart also pumps a little more and the pulse rate increases when the humidity is high. If youre obese, you may also see a higher resting pulse than normal, but not too much over 100 beats per minute.
It is important to note that an above normal heart rate can be a sign of several problems, and symptoms may include fainting, weakness, chest pain, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, heart pain, and inadequate blood flow in the legs and arms.
For an accurate heart rate reading, simply put your fingers over your pulse and count the number of beats per minute. You could also count the beats in 15 seconds and multiply the number by four. The best places to find your pulse are the wrists, side of your neck, inside of your elbow, and top of the foot.
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What Is A Normal Heart Rate
A normal heart rate, when you’re not being active, is between 60 100 beats per minute. This is called your resting heart rate. If you’ve been active, you’ll need to wait at least five minutes before taking your pulse.
When you’re active, your heart beats faster to get more oxygen to your working muscles. The harder your body is working, the faster your heart will beat. For example, your heart rate when you’re sprinting will be much faster than your heart rate when you’re walking. If you’re exercising hard it’s normal for your heart rate to get up to 160 beats per minute or more.
There are other things that can make your heart beat faster, like caffeine, nicotine, recreational drugs and some kinds of medications. Your heart will also beat faster when you feel strong emotions, like anxiety or fear.
Athletes or people who are very fit may have resting heart beats of less than 60 bpm.
What Causes Bradycardia
Bradycardia can be caused by many things. Examples include:
- Changes in the heart that are the result of aging.
- Diseases that damage the heart’s electrical system. These include coronary artery disease, heart attack, and infections such as endocarditis and myocarditis.
- Conditions that can slow electrical impulses through the heart. Examples include having a low thyroid level or an electrolyte imbalance, such as too much potassium in the blood.
- Many types of medicines. Examples include antidepressants, heart medicines, and opioids.
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How Slow Is Too Slow
Doctors consider a heart rate below 60 beats per minute as low, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.
If you have bradycardia, youll have a sustained heart rate below 60 even when youre awake and active. A normal range is from 60 to 100 beats-per-minute while awake. The heart rate can also slow down normally while we are asleep to 40 to 60 beats a minute.
Exercise And Heart Rate
Like any other muscle, your heart needs exercise to keep it fit and healthy. Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other health conditions, such as diabetes.
To keep your heart healthy, you should aim to do 150 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise a week. If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor about what exercise and target heart rates are safe for you.
One way to measure the intensity of your exercise is by using your heart rate. To exercise at a low to moderate intensity your heart rate should be at 50 to 70% of your approximate maximum heart rate.
The easiest way to get an approximate maximum heart rate is to calculate 220 your age. You then need to calculate 50 to 70% of your MHR.
For example, if you’re 40-years-old:
- your approximate maximum heart rate is: 220 40 = 180 beats per minute
- 50% of your MHR is 180 X 0.5 = 90 bpm
- 70% of your MHF is 180 X 0.7 = 126 bpm.
Alternatively, you can use our heart rate chart below to get a rough idea.
Remember if you’re on medications to slow your heart rate down, you may not be able to meet these upper heart rates and the aim should be to exercise at a rate that makes you lightly puff.
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How To Check Your Heart Rate
According to certified personal trainer Marianna Johnson, MSW, a good time to check your heart rate is right after you wake up, while youre still in bed. Johnson, owner of Mind Body Health & Fitness in Falls Church, Virginia, says a midday reading is also fine if taken after a few minutes of rest.
To take your heart rate, place your index and middle finger on your wrist or the side of your neck to locate your pulse. Count the number of beats in a minute.
Causes For A High Heart Rate
Our heart is designed to keep us safe, which is why when you need it to work harder it will. You dont have to ask it to beat faster when you start running or send in a request for more beats when youre stressed out it does this automatically. Other reasons for a temporary spike in heart rates may be:
- Increased emotional responses cause the stress response to kick in.
- High temperature or high humidity outside means the body is working to cool down.
- Standing up too quickly or a rapid change in body position.
- Fright or terror sparks an adrenaline response.
- Hormone changes can affect the heart rate.
- Sleep deprivation and fatigue cause the body to work harder.
- Obesity can cause your heart to work overtime, even while resting.
If you find your heart rate is consistently higher than others, there may be a few reasons for this. First, the heart rate typically increases with age. As those muscles grow weaker, they have to work harder. So if youre the oldest person in the room, your heart rate is likely higher. Also, if you have underlying conditions such as a poor diet, smoking habits, excessive alcohol use, high blood pressure, or recreational drug use, these are all reasons why your heart is working overtime and its time to lower your heart rate.
What is the Ideal Heart Rate?
Your body is not designed to run at 100% capacity all the time. Is yours running too much? Heres a quick way to tell if you need to lower your heart rate: First, find your pulse, and find a clock.
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Danger Signs Of A Fast Heart Rate
Although a rapid heartbeat can have many harmless causes, some causes are serious. The heart normally beats between 60 and 100 times each minute. While a slight increase in heart rate is usually harmless, especially in people without heart disease, a very rapid heart rate can cause your blood pressure to plummet to dangerously low levels, which can lead to dizziness or fainting.
A fast heartbeat can also stress your heart, causing chest pain or a heart attack. When shortness of breath accompanies the rapid rate, this suggests the rate is too fast for your heart to pump properly. If you experience any of these danger signs or if something just “doesn’t seem right” seek immediate medical attention.
What Is Bradycardia
The official bradycardia definition according to Harvard Medical School is an abnormally slow heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute. Each time the heart beats, oxygen-rich blood is pumped through the body. When you have an extremely low resting heart rate, your organs may not receive enough oxygen to operate properly.
However, a low heartbeat of 50 beats per minute may be normal for some elite athletes and some people who are extremely active. For these people, their bodies have adapted to a low heart rate and their body is efficiently pumping blood. Nevertheless, even people who are physically fit should have any signs of bradycardia evaluated by a physician.
Sinus bradycardia occurs when this condition starts in the sinus node, the natural pacemaker of the heart. Bradycardia may start here if electrical impulses that trigger the heart rate are not occurring as they should. This includes a slower than normal impulse, a failed impulse, an irregular impulse, or an impulse thats blocked. Some individuals may experience sinus node problems that cause alternating bradycardia and tachycardia.
While bradycardia and tachycardia sound similar, they are polar opposites. Tachycardia is a condition where the resting heart rate is faster than normal. There are several types of tachycardia including atrial fibrillation, SVT and others and if you are experiencing an abnormally slow or an abnormally fast heart rate, call 911.
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