Medical Causes Of A Fluctuating Heart Rate
Medical issues â many of them easily treated â can also cause a fluctuating pulse, including:
How Are Arrhythmias Diagnosed
Arrhythmias can be diagnosed in several ways. The doctor will use a person’s medical history information, along with a physical examination, to begin the evaluation. If an arrhythmia is suspected, the doctor will probably recommend an ECG/EKG to measure the heart’s electrical activity.
There’s nothing painful about an ECG/EKG it’s just a procedure where a series of electrodes are attached to the skin with sticky papers. The electrodes have wires attached to them, which connect to the EKG machine.
The electrical signals from the heart are then briefly recorded, usually for just 10 seconds. This information is sent to a computer, where it’s interpreted and drawn as a graph.
A doctor might recommend these types of ECG/EKG tests:
The Downward Slope: Your Metabolism Working Overtime
The Downward Slope is a sign that your metabolism is working overtime. Did you have a late meal, a late workout, or a glass of wine before bed? If your RHR starts high and reaches its lowest point right before you wake up, you may start the day feeling groggy.
If you regularly see this downward slope, it may be wise to stop and reassess your evening routine. For example, if you normally work out late at night, exercising; 12 hours earlier can result in positive changes.
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The Conduction System Of The Heart
The heart has its own natural pacemaker made up of a specialized collection of cells in the top chamber of the heart known as the SA node. This generates an impulse that travels through another collection of cells in the middle of the heart known as the AV node. The pathways taken by the impulses are known as the conduction system.
Problems with a low heart rate can be caused by dysfunction of the SA node, the AV node or the conduction system! It gets even more complex. The conduction system of the heart has many nerves attached to it; some of these nerves decrease the rate of conduction whereas others increase the rate of conduction. The nerves that decrease the rate of conduction and therefore lower heart rate are known as parasympathetic nerves. An example is when someone vomits; this can increase impulses in the parasympathetic nerves and slow the heart rate significantly for a while. This can even lead to passing out, which is known as a vagal event.
A balance of impulse from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves determine a persons baseline heart rate. Interestingly, in experiments where a persons nerve supply is blocked, the heart rate is often higher; this would suggest that the parasympathetic nerve impulses that serve to slow the heart rate down are the predominant force under normal resting conditions. This is particularly evident at night when most people have a significant drop in heart rate.
Why Does My Heart Skip A Beat
There are several possible causes of heart palpitations.
Trouble from above.;Some palpitations stem from premature contractions of the heart’s upper chambers . When the atria contract a fraction of a second earlier than they should, they rest an instant longer afterward to get back to their usual rhythm. This feels like a skipped beat and is often followed by a noticeably forceful contraction as the lower chambers clear out the extra blood they accumulated during the pause. These premature beats are almost always benign, meaning they aren’t life-threatening or the sign of a heart attack in the making.
Two other heart rhythm disturbances that can cause palpitations from above are atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat caused by chaotic electrical activity in the heart’s upper chambers. Supraventricular tachycardia is a faster-than-normal heart rate that begins above the heart’s lower chambers. Both of these may cause palpitations that may be brief or prolonged. Both should be evaluated by your physician.
Other sources.;Problems with the heart’s timekeeper, called the pacemaker or sinus node, can cause palpitations. So can a breakdown in the coordination between the upper and lower chambers. Scar tissue in the heart from a heart attack or other injury and valve problems such as mitral valve prolapse can also lead to palpitations.
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What Is Your Sleeping Heart Rate
Your heart rate at rest or during sleep measures how fast your heart beats in this state. A good measure of this biomarker is how many heartbeats you record per minute at a relatively passive time, such as immediately you rise before you even get out of bed.
The resting heart rate is of cardinal significance to health. This figure indicates how much exertion your heart muscles have to undertake to maintain blood supply and keep a steady heartbeat.
Hence, with sleeping heart rate unlike with maximum heart rate lower scores are better.
A lower resting heart rate indicates that your heart, heart muscles, and other related circulatory mechanisms are in prime condition. Lower RHR means they dont have to overexert themselves to maintain proper cardiovascular function.
Consequently, the closeness of your resting heart rate to average can often be a valid predictor of your risk factor for heart disease, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
What then, is the perfect resting heart rate? Like with most physiological metrics, it depends.
According to the American Heart Association, barring any underlying medical conditions, the reasonable resting heart rate for most people should fall between 60-100 beats per minute, with healthier people often falling on the lower end of that range.
However, this broad range does not tell the whole story.
Iii The Effects Of Heart Disease On Sleep
Heart disease can affect your ability to sleep in subtle ways. People with congestive heart failure often have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. This is due to the shortness of breath that is caused by CHF. This shortness of breath is often made worse when you lie down. The blood in your legs flows back into the heart. This can bring the heart more blood than it is able to pump.
People who have these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia. Doctors call these symptoms:
- Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
Heart disease also causes people to worry about their health. They are often afraid that they might have a heart attack or stroke. This anxiety can make it very hard to sleep at night. Over time, this sleep problem can develop into chronic insomnia.
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When Changes In Heart Rhythms Warrant A Physicians Attention
Though most fluctuations in heart rhythms will likely be harmless, there are times your first response should be to seek medical advice.
- Your symptoms are sudden and abnormal.;If theres a clear first time that you notice a rhythm change in your heart, its a good idea to alert your doctor, Anderson says. You should also call your doctor when a change in heart rhythms corresponds to chest pain, losing consciousness or a prolonged sense that you might pass out. Likewise, contact a medical professional if a rhythmic abnormality persists.
- Your history involves other heart issues.;If you were born with a malformation; if youve had heart surgery; if youve had a;heart attack;or long-standing, untreated;high blood pressure; or if there is something otherwise abnormal with your heart and you notice abnormal heart rhythms, you should see your doctor.
- Your family history puts you at increased risk.;Your doctor may ask you to attend more closely to changes in your heart rhythms if your family has a history of heart disease or sudden death.
How Can You Care For Yourself
Bradycardia is often the result of another heart condition, so taking steps to live a heart-healthy lifestyle will usually improve your overall health. The steps include:
- Having a heart-healthy eating plan that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit alcohol, sodium, and sugar.
- Being active on most, if not all, days of the week. Your doctor can tell you what level of exercise is safe for you.
- Losing weight if you need to, and staying at a healthy weight.
- Not smoking.
- Managing other health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
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High Resting Heart Rates
In contrast, Wasfy adds that having a high number of beats per minute could increase a persons risk of cardiac diseases. When the heart has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood throughout the body, it wears out faster. A chronically high heart rate above;100 bpm is called tachycardia, and it can be caused by anxiety, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, overconsumption of alcohol or caffeine, drug use, or other underlying medical conditions.
The negative effects of a fast heart rate were demonstrated in a heart rate study;conducted by Copenhagen University Hospital. This study found that a higher resting heart rate was directly correlated with health problems and a higher risk of death. Specifically, the risk of mortality increased by 16% for every additional 10 beats per minute.
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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Normal Resting Heart Rate For Kids
Childrens heart rates are normally faster than those of adults. According to Cleveland Clinic, the normal resting heart rate for a child aged six to 15 is between 70 to 100 beats per minute.
Many factors can affect your resting heart rate, including your level of physical activity. In fact, highly trained athletes can have a resting heart rate of around 40 beats per minute!
Other factors that can affect resting heart rate include:
- Age. You may find that your resting heart rate decreases as you get older.
- Temperature. Your heart rate may increase slightly when youre exposed to hot temperatures.
- Medication side effects. For example, medications such as beta-blockers can lower your resting heart rate.
- Emotions. If youre anxious or excited, your heart rate may increase.
- Weight. People who are obese may have a higher resting heart rate. This is because the heart has to work harder to supply the body with blood.
- Body positioning. Heart rate can increase temporarily when you move from a sitting to a standing position
- Smoking. Smokers tend to have a higher resting heart rate. Quitting smoking can help bring it back down.
How To Measure Your Heart Rate
You can take your own heart rate easily by putting a finger over your pulse at the wrist, inside of your elbow, side of your neck or top of your foot. Simply count the number of beats in 60 seconds .
To get the most accurate measure of your resting heart rate, follow these tips from Harvard Health Publishing:
- Wait at least two hours after exercise or a stressful event
- Wait at least an hour after having caffeine
- Don’t measure when you’ve been sitting or standing for a long period of time
You can also monitor your heart rate throughout the day by wearing a fitness tracker, which may help you identify a fluctuating heart rate. But keep in mind that accuracy can vary in these products.
If you’re concerned that you might have an arrhythmia, the best way to know for sure is by visiting a cardiologist, who can use more sophisticated heart monitors and tools like an electrocardiogram to track of your heart’s activity.
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Causes Of A Slow Heart Rate
Its normal for your heart rate to change throughout the day. It speeds up when you exercise, slows down as you recover from exercising, and is usually at its lowest while you sleep.
Sometimes people have a slower heart rate than normal. This is called bradycardia, and it isnt necessarily a problem. Its diagnosed when your heart beats less than 60 beats per minute.
There are several causes of a slow heart rate. The most common are being young or physically fit. The heart is a muscle, and just like the other muscles in your body, it responds positively to exercise. When youre in good shape, your heart doesnt need to beat as often to supply your body with enough oxygen.
But a slow heart rate can also be a sign of a medical problem, such as a heart condition. If your resting heart rate is slow and you have other symptoms of bradycardia such as lightheadedness, call your doctor or go to the ER.
Slow Heart Rate Questionnaire
Heart attacks occur because of a decrease in blood flow to the heart. This is caused by a blockage in one of the hearts major blood vessels. In about 15% to 25% of heart attacks, the blood vessel thats blocked also supplies oxygen to your hearts electrical system. When the heart doesnt get enough oxygen, you may experience a slow heart rate.
Call 911 or go to the ER right away if you suspect youre having a heart attack. Treatment depends on the severity of the heart attack. It may include a combination of medications, stents , and surgery.
Treating a heart attack usually restores normal heart rate. However, a small percentage of people may need to get a pacemaker to control their heart rate.
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Capturing Heart Palpitations In Action
If you are at risk for a heart rhythm problem, or if palpitations are interfering with your life or mental health, a recording of your heart’s rhythm for 24 hours or even longer may capture an electrical “signature” of the problem. Getting visual evidence of this signature can help determine how best to treat your palpitations.
A Holter monitor constantly records your heart’s rhythm for 24 hours as you go about your daily activities. Small patches called electrodes are stuck onto your chest and attached to a recorder that you carry in a pocket or wear around your neck or waist. During the test, you keep a diary of what you are doing and how you feel, along with the time of day of each entry. When you return the monitor to your doctor, he or she will look at the recording to see if there have been any irregular heart rhythms.
Twenty-four hours often isn’t long enough to detect palpitations. An event recorder can monitor the heart for days or weeks. There’s even an implantable recorder that can invisibly monitor the heart for a year or more.
Causes Of Supraventricular Tachycardia
An episode of supraventricular tachycardia occurs when abnormal electrical impulses suddenly start in the upper chambers of the heart, and override the heart’s natural rhythm.
SVT is sometimes called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia . Paroxysm means a sudden temporary disturbance of heart rhythm.
PSVT is usually caused by a short circuit in the electrical system of the heart, which causes an electrical signal to travel rapidly and continuously around in a circle, forcing the heart to beat each time it completes the circuit.
Another type of SVT is called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, where an abnormal electrical connection occurs between the atria and ventricles . People with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are born with a strand of extra muscle tissue between these chambers. This produces a short circuit, which causes the fast heartbeat.
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Average Sleeping Heart Rate By Age: Why It Matters
August 10, 2020//;;by;Terry Cralle//;;
Your heart rate is one of the bodys most essential biomarkers, and can often be a key indicator of your health levels. Coincidentally, it can also be one of the easiest to measure.
So, should you measure your heart rate and begin parading your relatively normal scores as a testament to your bill of health? The reality surrounding your heart rate and what it implies is significantly more nuanced than that.
First off, when the importance of heart rate of overall well being comes up in conversation, the discussion often centers around improving your maximum heart rate .
Your maximum heart rate indicates how fast your heart is beating when you face your highest levels of stress or exertion. This marker is one of the critical determinants of how much oxygen you can consume when your body is at the highest needyour aerobic capacity. Several studies show a strong relationship between higher aerobic capacity levels and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. So, the focus on the maximum heart rate is not unwarranted.
However, your heart rate when youre sleeping or at rest can be equally as important.