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.
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.
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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Can Resting Heart Rate Be Too Low
While less common, some people may have a resting heart rate that falls lower than 60 beats per minute.
“When a person’s heart muscle is in excellent condition, it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep a steady beat. Therefore, people who exercise frequently and are very physically fit can have a resting heart rate that falls below 60 beats per minute. In fact, a trained athlete’s resting heart rate can be as low as 40 beats per minute,” explains Dr. Chebrolu.
Additionally, medications, specifically beta blockers, can also slow your heart rate.
“The time to worry about a low heart rate is if you’re not very active and you’re not taking medications but your resting heart rate frequently falls below 60 beats per minute, especially if you’re also experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath or fainting,” warns Dr. Chebrolu. “This can be a sign of bradycardia a slower than normal heart rate that can lead to poor oxygen flow to your vital organs.”
How Do You Check Your Pulse
You can measure your heart rate manually by checking your pulse. Follow these three steps.
- Find your pulse in your wrist .
- Count each beat for a total time of 30 seconds.
- Double the number of beats you counted. This is your heart rate or pulse, measured in beats per minute.
Also make a note of whether your heart beats at an even or uneven rhythm. A normal heart beats at a steady rhythm like a clock, tick tock tick tock.
Some people like to use a heart rate monitor to measure their heart rate. These monitors are often included in fitness trackers, which are now widely available in sports stores and other retail outlets. However, their accuracy depends on the quality of the device.
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How Quickly And By How Much
A recent poster on Researchgate asked, Is it possible to decrease the heart rate by 20 bpm in 6 months The consensus? Yes, through exercise, but you need to be healthy to start, and work super hard.
G. Filligoi of Sapienza University of Rome recommends the relaxation route: You can decrease heart rate by respiration exercises, yoga, meditation. I would suggest some self-consciousness approach in order to reduce the anxiety, nervous stress, and similars.
Not everyone agrees its possible. In my opinion, says Oscar Fabregat-Andrés of MED Hospitales, it is not possible to modulate baseline heart rate in such magnitude, because although exercise is able to regulate autonomic system, vagal tone necessary to reach this rate is not performed in 6 months.
Ask The Doctor: Does Heart Rate Affect Blood Pressure
Q. When doctors interpret a blood pressure reading, should they also consider the heart rate? I am a 78-year-old man and have had high blood pressure for more than 40 years. I frequently monitor my blood pressure at home, resting for five minutes before I take the reading. My blood pressure is often higher when my heart rate is close to its usual resting rate and lower when my heart is beating faster than that. Can the body’s demands that cause higher blood pressure be partially satisfied by a faster heart rate?
A. First, let me congratulate you on monitoring your blood pressure at home. This is a great way for you to take control of your high blood pressure, and a good step toward preventing a stroke. Knowing that your blood pressure at home is under consistent control is more important than getting isolated readings at the doctor’s office. You are also resting before taking the reading, and this is important to avoid spuriously high readings that happen when someone rushes around, and then sits down quickly to take a blood pressure reading.
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What’s A Normal Heart Rate
Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100bpm.
The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm, or lower.
See a GP to get checked if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 40bpm, although it may simply be that this is normal for you.
Visit the British Heart Foundation for more information on checking your pulse.
How To Lower Heart Rate
If your heart rate is too high there are ways to lower it safely. Your heart rate could be high after exercising or because youre feeling stressed or anxious.
Here are some fast-acting methods that can help lower a fast heart rate:
- Breathing exercises: You can use your breathing to raise the aortic pressure in your heart, which will lower your heart rate. To do this, close your mouth and nose and raise the pressure in your chest. Breathe in for five to eight seconds, hold it for three to five seconds, and then exhale slowly. This can be repeated several times.
- Taking a bath: This can help relax you and bring your heart rate down.
- Light yoga: Calming yoga or meditation can help relax you and bring a high heart rate down.
- Moving to a cooler location: If your heart rate is raised because youre too hot, moving to a cooler location will help bring it down.
Here are some long-term solutions that can help you achieve a healthy heart rate:
- Exercising regularly: Starting and keeping an exercise program will help decrease resting heart rates over time.
- Eating healthy:Healthy diets that contain whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids are great for supporting long term heart health and will help keep heart disease at bay.
- Quitting smoking:Non-smokers have a lowered risk of recurrent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
- Staying hydrated:Drinking enough water allows the heart to pump blood more easily throughout the body.
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Clinical Contributors To This Story
Sarah L. Timmapuri, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health, Exercise / Fitness.
If your heart is racing as youre sitting reading this article, its possible your body is trying to tell you something. A high resting heart rate, or a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, means your heart is working extra hard to pump blood through your body. And, that extra effort could result in a wide range of negative effects on your overall health, including feelings of dizziness and fatigue and most seriously blood clots, heart failure and, in rare cases, sudden death.
Normal resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and its simple to check how fast yours is beating. While idle, hold your pointer and middle finger between your bone and tendon on the thumb side on your wrist until you feel your pulse, and count the number of beats for a minute that is your resting heart rate.
Certain aspects of someones resting heart rate are directly connected to uncontrollable factors, such as age and genetics, however there are certain actions that be taken to help decrease heart rate and improve overall wellbeing for those whose resting heart rate is above normal.
Here are six proven ways to lower your resting heart rate:
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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.
What Home Remedy Can I Use To Lower My Heart Rate
Ways to reduce sudden changes in heart rate include: practicing deep or guided breathing techniques, such as box breathing. relaxing and trying to remain calm. going for a walk, ideally away from an urban environment. having a warm, relaxing bath or shower. practice stretching and relaxation exercises, such as yoga.
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What Are Heart Palpitations
A heart palpitation is when you suddenly become aware of your heart beating, usually in an irregular way. Sometimes you can feel it in your ears or your chest when youre lying down. Your heart beat may feel:
- too fast or slow
- like its fluttering
- like its thudding, or pounding.
It is not unusual to feel heart palpitations occasionally and mostly they are harmless. However if youre experiencing them on a regular basis, see your doctor.
What Is An Irregular Pulse
An irregular pulse is when the heart doesn’t beat in a regular, steady rhythm. This is also called an irregular heart rate or an arrhythmia.
If your heart rate is irregular, you may notice that your pulse:
- seems irregular or is ‘jumping around’
- is racing, even when you’re at rest
- seems unusually slow some or most of the time.
How Can You Lower Your Heart Rate
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How to lower your resting heart rate Get moving. Exercise is the number one way to lower resting heart rate, says Dr. Singh. Manage stress. Anxiety and stress can elevate the heart rate, too. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Maintain a healthy weight. Stay hydrated. Sleep well.
Foods That Lower Heart Rate
Diet also seems to have an effect on your heart rate. A cross-sectional analysis of about 10,000 European men without heart disease showed that eating fish was associated with a decreased heart rate. Fish consumption was still an important factor in lowering heart rate when the study adjusted for age, physical activity, smoking, and several other factors.
Most instances of a sudden spike in heart rate come from faster-than-normal impulses from the sinus node, the hearts natural pacemaker. This situation is called sinus tachycardia. In this case, the heartbeat is fast, but normal.
The American Heart Association notes that sinus tachycardia can arise from several different conditions, including:
- some medical and street drugs
- severe emotional distress
It results less commonly from:
- heart muscle damage from heart failure or a heart attack
- severe bleeding
Doctors address sinus tachycardia by going after the cause. For example, they may prescribe psychological care for anxiety and other types of emotional distress. Physiological conditions such as anemia or thyroid problems will require medical treatment.
In some cases, its impossible to link sinus tachycardia back to a source. This type of so-called inappropriate sinus tachycardia is a difficult condition to treat. In the long run, it can cause significant medical problems.
Possible complications include:
- blood clots, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack
- heart failure
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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.
What The Experts Do
Monitor Heart Rate for Motivation
For Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., most workoutstake place on an elliptical trainer in his home. His machine has electrodeson which he can place his hands to automatically see his heart rate. Itgives me a sense of how hard Im working, he says.
Blaha also uses his targeted heart rate to guide the course that heprogrammed into the machine, so that he works up to where he wants to be interms of exertion. Knowing your target heart rate and trying to achieve itcan be very motivating, he says.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, it’s vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
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