Oura Helped Me Realize That My Heart Was In Trouble
The following is a true story from an Oura user who chose to share their experience.
I wanted to share with you all a success story that I had related to my health. Hopefully, it will help others
I wear the Oura Ring all day and all night and I also wear an Apple Watch. Around March 21 of this year, I started receiving high heart rate alerts from my Apple Watch. I ignored it thinking it was just stress related to all the news of COVID-19. I had my watch go off several times, but I just ignored it. There were several times where I felt my heart racing, but I again just ignored it thinking it was stress/anxiety.
The night of May 5, I could barely sleep because my heart had been beating so quickly. In the morning, I remembered that my Oura Ring tracked my Heart Rate Trends during the night. I pulled up my heart rate in the app and discovered my heart rate had basically been above 120 BPM since March 21.
I had my wife drive me to the emergency room after seeing the data. I was admitted to the hospital and ultimately diagnosed with Atrial Flutter. This is a condition that causes the upper right chamber of your heart to beat at a very high rate. The condition can ultimately cause a stroke as blood pools in the lower chambers of the heart, which can clot and ultimately give you a stroke.
I wanted to thank you for the Oura Ring. It quite literally may have saved my life. I only wished I had checked the data a little sooner, so it did not go on for so long.
Sleeping Heart Rate Breathing Rate And Hrv: What Your Sleep Data Means
Gathering sleep data is one thing — understanding it is another thing entirely.
To get a full picture of your health, track more than your activity — track your sleep, too.
Got a new smartwatch or fitness tracker for the holidays? Most wrist-worn devices do much more than take calls and track workouts these days, and if you have one, you should take advantage of all the snazzy features — sleep tracking in particular.
Tracking your sleep can reveal a wealth of information about your health that you may have been totally oblivious to before. If you utilize that data, you can manipulate your diet, workout routine, stress management tactics and other factors to become a superhuman. OK, maybe not a superhuman , but you’ll still feel dang good.
The information available to you depends on the device you have, but most sleep trackers collect a variety of data points, including sleep stage percentages, heart rate, breathing rate, and maybe even heart rate variability.
When you first look at your sleep tracker data, all those numbers and graphs may feel dizzying. In this article, I explain what your sleep data points mean and how to use them to your benefit.
Read more: 5 reasons to prioritize sleep in 2021
Sleeping Heart Rate: Decoding The Clues To Long
Do you know how fast your heart beats when youre sleeping? If not, it might be time to find out. Countless studies have shown that resting heart rate is a key indicator of longevity. How fast or slow your heart beats during sleep can determine your risk of certain diseases and disorders, all while shedding light on your overall physical health.
Tapping into this knowledge is also important for determining your target heart rate zones, which can guide you to peak athletic performance. Heres everything you need to know about your sleeping heart rate plus how to identify and improve it.
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How Sleep Helps The Heart
How can getting enough sleep protect your heart? Sleep expert Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, explains.
- Good-quality sleep decreases the work of your heart, as blood pressure and heart rate go down at night.
- People who are sleep-deprived show less variability in their heart rate, meaning that instead of fluctuating normally, the heart rate usually stays elevated. “That is not a good sign,” Zee says. “That looks like heightened stress.”
- Lack of sleep can increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Shortened sleep can increase CRP, or C-reactive protein, which is released with stress and inflammation. “If your CRP is high, it’s a risk factor for cardiovascular and heart disease,” says Zee. Shortened sleep also interferes with appetite regulation. “So you may end up eating more or eating foods that are less healthy for your heart,” Zee says.
Improving Your Resting Heart Rate Score
If you have an elevated RHR, one of the best things you can do for your heart is to incorporate more cardiovascular exercises into your lifestyle.
Several research studies show a conclusive link between a high resting heart rate and a lower level of physical fitness. The RHR in most people also increases with body weight, and obese people have a significantly higher resting heart rate than the general population.
Hence, adopting a more fitness-oriented lifestyle and losing some weight are some of the best tactics for getting your RHR in control.
Adopting cardiovascular exercises like cycling, swimming, and walking into your daily routine can also strengthen your heart, improve your overall heart health, and reduce your risk of heart disease and other adverse cardiovascular events.
Note: Remember to hydrate properly and get enough sleep. Dehydration and sleep deprivation are two factors that can cause a consistent spike in your resting heart rate, even if you maintain optimal fitness levels.
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Sleep And Congestive Heart Failure
Damage to the heart that hurts its ability to pump blood is called congestive heart failure . Sleep disorders can be both a cause and an effect of CHF. The low oxygen levels and high blood pressure related to obstructive sleep apnea can cause the kind of damage that leads to CHF. The heart muscle is unable to handle the stress caused by the OSA. People who have CHF from another cause will see it get worse if they then develop sleep apnea. If sleep apnea is treated, however, patients with CHF will see their heart function improve.
About 40% of people with CHF have a sleep disorder called central sleep apnea . CSA occurs when the brain fails to tell the lungs to breathe. As this signal is lost, the lungs do not take in the oxygen that your body needs. This happens most often as people are falling asleep. CSA also causes people to wake up many times in the night. When they wake up, their heart rate and blood pressure both rise.
The low levels of oxygen that result from CSA are very harmful. The result is that CSA may worsen heart failure. In return, the heart failure may promote CSA. This causes a horrible cycle of declining heart function. Properly treating the heart failure is the best way to prevent CSA. If CSA still develops, there are treatments that can be used to keep it from occurring.
What Does It Mean If Your Resting Heart Rate Is High
There are a number of reasons why your RHR may be high and usually, there are simple solutions to combat that. Metabolism is a key indicator in an increased heart rate, so try eating or exercising earlier in the evening. If your heart rate goes up right after you fall asleep, then chances are youre just overly tired. To have a consistent heart rate, try to keep your bed time routine consistent. This will also help you get a better nights sleep. By having a consistent night time routine, your body won’t have any surprises and you’ll be able to take perfect care of your heart rate!
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Target Heart Rates Chart
What should your heart rate be when working out, and how can you keep track of it? Our simple chart will help keep you in the target training zone, whether you want to lose weight or just maximize your workout. Find out what normal resting and maximum heart rates are for your age and how exercise intensity and other factors affect heart rate.
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.
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Why Does Bradycardia Happen
The most common cause for bradycardia is a malfunction in the hearts natural pacemaker, the sinus node. It controls how quickly the top and bottom heart chambers pump blood through the body. Another cause is atrioventricular block , in which the top and bottom chambers dont communicate well and the heart rate drops as a result.
Its like having virtual electrical cables and wires inside the heart, Dr. Baez-Escudero says. And, they deteriorate as we age. Common medications that are used in older populations can also often make bradycardia more significant.
In fact, age is the most common risk factor for developing bradycardia. The condition is most common among men and women over age 65.
Illness or other conditions also may prompt it. These other causes include:
- Heart attacks due to coronary artery disease.
- Bacterial infection in the blood that attacks the heart.
- Inflammation of the heart muscle.
- Low thyroid function.
- Too much potassium in the blood.
- Certain medications, including beta blockers and antiarrhythmics.
Congenital heart defects, diabetes or long-standing high blood pressure all may make bradycardia more likely, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.
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Sleep Apnea And Bradycardia: The Pediatric Connection
However, the connection between sleep apnea and bradycardia also commonly refers to apnea of infancy, or the specific type of sleep apnea common among babies.
Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, defines apnea of infancy as an unexplained episode of cessation of breathing for 20 seconds or longer, or a shorter respiratory pause associated with bradycardia, cyanosis, pallor, and/or marked hypotonia.7
Most infants have bradycardia for the same reasons they have apnea, according to the Emory University School of Medicine. And often bradycardia results from the baby having apnea. But other medical problems can sometimes be the cause therefore, babies who have these episodes need to be evaluated.8
The Emory article goes on to list the following possible causes of sleep apnea and bradycardia in infants:
- Infection. This is a fairly common cause and is often looked for if a baby develops apnea.
- Low blood oxygen. Because it means a low heart rate, bradycardia can cause oxygen deprivation.
- Airway problems. This includes blockages in the nose or breathing airway, including those caused by mucous.
- Environmental factors. Emory defines these as high or low body temperature, or excessive handling of a very premature infant.
- Premature birth. This is often classified as apnea of prematurity.
How To Determine Your Ideal Exercising Heart Rate
Some athletes like to follow target-heart-rate training. This is based on your intensity level compared to your maximum heart rate.
Your maximum heart rate is considered the highest amount your heart can sustain during cardiovascular training. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
Most athletes train at between 50 and 70 percent of their maximum heart rate. For example, if your maximum heart rate is 180 bpm, your target-training zone would be between 90 and 126 bpm. Use a heart rate monitor to keep track during exercise.
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I Sleep And The Heart
The process of sleep is made up of the following two primary stages:
When you first fall asleep you are in the non-REM stage. The non-REM stage of sleep is a time when your heart does not have to work so hard. About 80% of a full night’s sleep is spent in this stage. During non-REM sleep, your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure all drop to levels below those that occur while you are awake.
REM is the stage of sleep when you have most of your dreams. It is only about 20% of your total sleep time. Your blood pressure and heart rate can go up and down during this stage. If you have a nightmare that wakes you up, you may find that your heart is racing.
When you wake up in the morning, your blood pressure and heart rate both go back up. It is time for you to be active again, and your heart has to get ready for a long day of work.
Slow Resting Heart Rates
A slow resting heart rate can mean different things, depending on the circumstances. For example, it sometimes suggests that a person has a healthier heart says Dr. Jason Wasfy at Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. In certain cases, a lower resting heart rate can mean a higher degree of physical fitness, which is associated with reduced rates of cardiac events like heart attacks.
In other cases, having a slow heart rate could signify something more serious it all depends on your activity level and age. Its normal for the elderly to have a lower than average resting heart rate, for example. So what if your resting heart rate is well below 60 bpm, but youre not an athlete or a senior?
According to the American Heart Association, this could suggest the presence of bradycardia when a persons heart rate is lower than it should be. Bradycardia doesnt always cause symptoms, but when it does, it can cause lightheadedness, weakness, confusion, and lack of energy when exercising. Having these symptoms in addition to a low heart rate may mean its time to seek medical advice.
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When To See A Doctor
A person should speak to a doctor if they notice their heart rate is slow.
When a baby has a low pulse, a parent or carer should take them to the emergency room.
Adults and children who have a low pulse and experience severe symptoms, such as chest pain or fainting, should also go to the hospital.
A person should see a doctor for bradycardia when:
- they experience an unexplained change in heart rate that lasts for several days
- they have bradycardia and other heart health risk factors, such as diabetes or smoking
- they have heart disease and bradycardia
- they experience bradycardia and other symptoms, such as fainting spells
- they experience episodes of bradycardia and tachycardia
Know Your Numbers: Maximum And Target Heart Rate By Age
This table shows target heart rate zones for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age.3
In the age category closest to yours, read across to find your target heart rates. Target heart rate during moderate intensity activities is about 50-70% of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity its about 70-85% of maximum.
The figures are averages, so use them as a general guide.
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When I See A Patient With A Low Heart Rate I Ask Myself The Following
Is the low heart rate a physiologic finding or a pathologic finding? An example of a physiologic low heart rate would be an athlete with a low resting heart rate from being trained, which is absolutely fine. An example of a pathologic heart rate would be a disorder of the internal pacemaker system of the heart such as heart block that would often need a pacemaker inserted as treatment.
Is the low heart rate the likely cause of symptoms? Symptoms of a low heart rate may include dizziness and fatigue. In order to be attributed to a low heart rate the symptoms should occur at the same time the heart rate is low.
Are there any reversible causes for the low heart rate? Medicines such as beta-blockers or disorders such as hypothyroidism may lead to low heart rate and if the heart rate is dangerously low and causing symptoms as a result of this, stopping the medication or treating the underlying conditions will likely reverse the symptoms.
Tachycardia: How High Is Too High
“A resting heart rate that is frequently over 110 or occasionally over 140 can lead to heart damage or heart failure and may need to be treated,” Dr. Santucci says. According to the American Heart Association, the medical term for a heart rate above 100 is tachycardia. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath.
Although the range of normal for a resting and sleeping heart rate is wide, the Mayo Clinic says to let your doctor know if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100, especially if you have any symptoms of tachycardia.
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