How Atrial Fibrillation Effects The Heart
AFiB is one of the most common heart conditions, affecting 4% of the adult population. Characterized by a rapid, irregular heartbeat, AFIB is largely due to abnormal electrical impulses that cause the atria of the heart to quiver when it should be beating steadily. Blood flow is reduced and is not completely pumped out of the two small upper chambers of the heart, the atria. This negatively impacts cardiac performance and also allows the blood to pool and potentially clot. At rest, a normal heart rate is approximately 60 100 beats per minute. In a person with AFIB, that heart rate can skyrocket to 180 bpm or even higher. Thorough testing by your health care provider can spot abnormalities in the hearts rhythm before any obvious symptoms are noticed.
How Do You Calm A Racing Heart
If you think youre having an attack, try these to get your heartbeat back to normal: Breathe deeply. It will help you relax until your palpitations pass. Splash your face with cold water. It stimulates a nerve that controls your heart rate. Dont panic. Stress and anxiety will make your palpitations worse.
How Is Resting Heart Rate Calculated
Measuring your resting heart rate is as easy as checking your pulse, which can be felt on the side of your neck or the underside of your wrist .
While sitting down and once you feel your pulse count the number of beats you feel over the span of 30 seconds . Multiply this number by two to calculate your heart beats per minute.
“To get an accurate representation of your resting heart rate, repeat this process a few times and over the course of a few days,” adds Dr. Chebrolu.
She also advises against checking your heart rate immediately after a stressful event, strenuous activity or consuming caffeine, which can lead to temporary elevation in your heart rate.
Additionally, most wearable fitness trackers and smart watches provide insights into your heart rate. And since these devices collect measurements throughout the day, they’re a simple way to effortlessly monitor your average resting heart rate.
“The heart rate measurements taken by wearable devices may not be as reliable as checking your pulse by hand, but they can help you track general trends and spot changes in your resting heart rate,” says Dr. Chebrolu.
And while some smartwatches now come with an ECG feature that can help monitor for heart rhythm issues, these devices alone cannot detect a life-threatening arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation .
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Your Maximum Heart Rate
Maximum heart rate — or MHR — is the fastest number of beats each minute your heart can maintain and still fulfill its duty of pumping blood throughout your entire body. It is a formula derived from your age. To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from the number 220. If you are 30 years old, your MHR is 190. If you are 55, your MHR is 165. The younger you are, the higher your predicted MHR. And if you are younger than 20, a healthy MHR may be over 200. However, maximum heart rate is just that — a maximum. Ideal aerobic exercise occurs within the range of your personal THR.
What You Can Do
You should always aim to take good care of your heart. This includes doing things like exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Additionally, you should plan to visit your doctor regularly for physicals. Not only is it good practice, but it can also help with early detection of things like high cholesterol or blood pressure abnormalities.
If you already have heart disease, you should carefully monitor your condition and stick to your treatment plan. Take all medications as instructed by your doctor. Be sure to promptly report any new or worsening symptoms.
Some additional preventative health tips to help keep your heart healthy and happy include:
- Find ways to reduce stress. Examples of ways to do this can include things like yoga or meditation.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Using too much caffeine can lead to increases in heart rate.
- Moderate your drinking. Women and men over 65 should only have one drink per day. Men under 65 should only have two drinks per day.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases your heart rate and quitting can help bring it back down.
- Be aware of medication side effects. Some medications can affect your heart rate. Always be aware of possible side effects before taking a medication.
Your heart is a muscular organ that works to pump oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the tissues of your body. The muscles of your heart contract and relax to push blood through your blood vessels.
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Can Resting Heart Rate Be Too High
Can resting heart rate be too high?
As mentioned, normal heart rate can range between 60 to 100 beats per minute. So, if your resting heart rate is consistently higher than 100, do you need to be worried?
“The more beats your heart has to take on a regular basis, the more strain it places on your heart over time. A resting heart rate regularly above 100 beats per minute is called tachycardia, which can place you at an increased risk of heart disease, and even death if your heart rate climbs high enough,” warns Dr. Chebrolu.
This means that it’s incredibly important to talk to your doctor if you’re resting heart rate is consistently high. He or she can run the tests and bloodwork needed to assess your overall heart health.
Your doctor can also recommend lifestyle changes that may help lower your resting heart rate, including:
- Getting regular exercise
- Regularly practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation
- Losing excess weight
- Maintaining healthy choices and modifying your cardiovascular risk factors
- Avoiding certain prescription and over-the-counter medications that can affect your heart rate
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol use
“In particular, starting an exercise program can help you decrease your resting heart rate up to one beat per minute for every week or so that you train with reductions in resting heart rate, over time, ranging from 10 to 12 beats per minute,” adds Dr. Chebrolu.
Things You Can Do To Help With Supraventricular Tachycardia
If your episodes of SVT only last a few minutes and do not bother you, you may not need treatment.
You can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your chances of having episodes, such as:
- cutting down on the amount of caffeine or alcohol you drink
- stopping or cutting back on smoking
- making sure you get enough rest
Your doctor may also be able to recommend some simple techniques to help stop episodes when they happen.
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What Happens If Your Pulse Rate Is Too High
These complications may include formation of blood clots leading to stroke or heart attack, heart failure, frequent fainting spells or worst of all, sudden death. Some stimuli or underlying conditions increase ones risk of having rapid pulse rates, and these are factors that usually put a strain on the heart.
What Causes Atrial Fibrillation
Your heart is divided into four chambers: the two upper chambers called atria, and two lower chambers called ventricles. In order for blood to be pumped through your body, a group of cells sends electrical impulses to the atria that tells your heart to contract. Contractions of the heart send approximately five quarts of blood through your body every minute. In people with AF, however, the impulses are sent chaotically. The atria quiver instead of beat the blood isnt completely pumped out and may pool and potentially clot.
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When Your Heart Rate Slows
Sometimes our hearts beat slower than 60 beats per minute. This is called bradycardia. For some people, like athletes and healthy, young adults, this heart rate could be normal. But for others, it could be caused by your brain and other organs not getting enough oxygen to function like they should.
If thatâs the case, you may feel faint, dizzy, weak, or short of breath. You might also have chest pains, memory problems, or tire easily.
What Should Your Resting Heart Rate Be
Out of all the health stats to keep your eye on, your resting heart rate might feel like one of the more boring ones.
Seeing your heart rate rise while you’re exercising can be a confidence boost, letting you know you’re getting a good workout in. Checking it when your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest is a fun reminder of just how anxiety-inducing some everyday situations can be like going on a first date or watching sports.
But when you’re just sitting down binge-watching some TV or typing away at your computer checking your resting heart rate can feel…anti-climactic.
And yet, it’s important to do now and then. A healthy heart is a strong heart, after all.
“Monitoring your resting heart rate is important because it can help provide clues about your overall heart health. For instance, a consistently high resting heart rate can be a sign that your heart isn’t working as efficiently as it could be. In some cases, it can even be a sign of an underlying heart condition,” explains Dr. Bindu Chebrolu, cardiologist at Houston Methodist.
Plus, one of the benefits of knowing your resting heart rate is that there are ways to lower it if it is too high.
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When To Call Your Doctor
The heart is arguably the most important organ in the body. If something goes wrong, the consequences are sometimes fatal. Some heart problems may not be as detrimental as a heart attack, but this doesnt mean they shouldnt be taken seriously.
You should go to the doctor if your heart rate has been within a normal range and suddenly is not. This might indicate you have a heart problem like arrhythmia which is an abnormal heart rhythm, tachycardia which is when the heart beats consistently at over 100 bpm, or bradycardia which is a low heart rate thats less than 60 bpm.
You should seek emergency care if your rapid heart rate is resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, or dizziness, says Evan Jacobs, MD, the Regional Medical Director in Cardiovascular Services atConviva Care Centers. In general, a sustained heart rate above 130 beats per minute, regardless of symptoms, should prompt urgent evaluation. Your primary care doctor or cardiologist should be alerted to rates between 100 and 130 beats per minute and can decide on the need for emergency care on a case-by-case basis.
Consequences Of A Fast Heart Rate
Often a fast heart rate will have no significant effect on the heart, although there may be associated symptoms. In some cases however the symptoms may be enough as to cause concern and quality of life limiting symptoms. In a few cases, the heart rate may be continually elevated over a long period of time weeks-months often at heart rates above 120-130 beats per minutes and lead to a weakening of the heart muscle known as tachycardia mediated cardiomyopathy. Regardless, it is important to work up and identify any underlying causes of fast heat rate and give the appropriate treatment.
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What Is Resting Heart Rate
Even if you don’t always feel it, your heart is always beating.
If your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute, your resting heart rate, then, is the number of times your heart beats per minute while you’re at rest.
“It’s normal for your resting heart rate to differ from someone else’s, and it’s also normal for your own heart rate to vary slightly throughout the course of the day,” says Dr. Chebrolu.
Factors that can affect your resting heart rate include:
- Having heart disease, diabetes or higher cholesterol
- Emotions you experience
- External conditions, including air temperature
“Generally speaking, though, a normal resting heart rate typically ranges between 60 to 100 beats per minute in adults,” adds Dr. Chebrolu.
Also, don’t forget a normal heart rate does not imply a normal blood pressure.
What To Do When Your Running Heart Rate Gets Too High
Youre out for a run and its going great. Youre on mile four of a five-mile tempo run, and youre in that sweet spot where your perfect pace feels comfortably hard. But soon, your heart rate begins to climb. Within a few minutes, comfortably hard feels uncomfortable.
If youre not paying attention, the feeling of dizziness, or feeling close to hyperventilating, may creep up on you. That means your heart rate has been too high for too long and you need to get it down to be able to continue running. Heres how to lower your heart rate while running, and what to do when you find yourself in a scary situation on the run.
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What Is A Dangerous Heart Rate
A number of conditions can impact your heart rate. An arrhythmia causes the heart to beat too quick, too slow or with an irregular rhythm.
Tachycardia is normally considered to be a resting heart rate of over 100 beats per minute, according to the National Institutes of Health, and generally triggered when electrical signals in the hearts upper chambers fire unusually. If the heart rate is closer to 150 bpm or higher, it is a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia . In SVT, your hearts electrical system, which controls the heart rate, runs out whack. This usually requires medical attention.
Bradycardia is a condition where the heart rate is too low, generally less than 60 bpm. This can be the result of issues with the sinoatrial node, which functions as the pacemaker, or damage to the heart as an outcome of a heart attack or heart disease.
Should I Worry About My Fast Pulse
Q. My pulse is usually on the fast side. Does a high heart rate mean I have a problem with my heart?
A. In otherwise healthy people, a heart rate at rest should be less than100 beats per minute at rest. Heart rates that are consistently above 100, even when the person is sitting quietly, can sometimes be caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. A high heart rate can also mean the heart muscle is weakened by a virus or some other problem that forces it to beat more often to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Usually, though, a fast heartbeat is not due to heart disease, because a wide variety of noncardiac factors can speed the heart rate. These include fever, a low red blood cell count , an overactive thyroid, or overuse of caffeine or stimulants like some over-the-counter decongestants. The list goes on and includes anxiety and poor physical conditioning.
Many people today wear a wrist band that shows their heart rate. Or you can check your heart rate the old fashioned way by feeling the pulse in your wrist or neck. You count the number of beats over 15 seconds and multiply it times four. If your heart rate is consistently high, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
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Atrial Or Supraventricular Tachycardia
Atrial or supraventricular tachycardia is a fast heart rate that starts in the upper chambers of the heart. Some forms of this particular tachycardia are paroxysmal atrial tachycardia or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia .
With atrial or supraventricular tachycardia, electrical signals in the hearts upper chambers fire abnormally. This interferes with electrical impulses coming from the sinoatrial node, the hearts natural pacemaker.
The disruption results in a faster than normal heart rate. This rapid heartbeat keeps the hearts chambers from filling completely between contractions, which compromises blood flow to the rest of the body.
A profile for atrial or SVT
In general, those most likely to have atrial or supraventricular tachycardia are:
- Women, to a greater degree than men
- Anxious young people
In extreme cases, those suffering with atrial or SVT may also experience:
Treatment for Atrial or SVT
If you have atrial or SVT, its possible that you wont need treatment.
But if the episodes are prolonged, or recur often, your doctor may recommend treatment, including:
- Some medicinal and street drugs
Other, less common causes may include:
- Heart muscle damage from heart attack or heart failure
- Severe bleeding
Approach to treatment
Treating Supraventricular Tachycardia In Hospital
SVT is rarely life threatening. But you may need treatment in hospital if you keep having long episodes.
This may include:
- medicines to control the episodes of SVT given as tablets or through a vein
- cardioversion a small electric shock to the heart to help it get back to a normal rhythm
- catheter ablation a treatment where thin tubes are placed through a vein or artery into your heart to correct the problem with the electrical system this permanently cures the problem in most patients
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How To Check Your Heart Rate
You can check your heart rate by counting the pulse. A pulse can be felt at various sites on the body like over the sides of the neck, the wrist, and the top of the foot. To check your pulse on the wrist with the help of your middle finger and index finger, you need to:
- Keep your middle finger and your index finger over the inner part of the wrist and keep pressing gently until you can feel your pulse. The pulse is felt in your radial artery.
- After you have located your pulse, look at the watch, and start counting the beats for 30 seconds. Doubling this count will give you your heart rate. You can even count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply the number by six to get your heart rate.
If you find the rhythm of your heartbeat slightly irregular, you will have to count the beats completely until 60 seconds. You will have to visit your doctor if you keep getting a fast and irregular heart rate consistently.