Love songs would have you think that a racing heart that goes boom-boom and beep-beep is a sign of romance. We know better, and we know it’s not necessarily healthy, but how do you know if something is wrong?
A rapid heart rate – clinically known as tachycardia – occurs when the heart beats faster than 100 beats per minute in adults. It can be scary, making your chest feel like something is fluttering inside it or like you are losing your breath.
Each person has their own normal resting pulse rate, defined as the amount of times your heart beats per minute. It usually varies anywhere from 60 to 100, and can change over time depending on your age or level of activity.
What if your pulse is outside of this range? For numbers that fall on the lower side, there’s not always a cause for concern. It’s not abnormal for athletes and others who work out a lot to have low heart rates that hover around 60, or sometimes even below that number. In these cases, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood because the person is physically fit.
Medications like beta blockers can cause heart rates to be on the low end, but it is important to monitor yourself if you’re on something. Your physician will want to know about fluctuations in your heartbeat if there’s a connection to the meds you’re taking.
On the other hand, a high heart rate could be indicative of a health problem, and if your heart is beating too fast, that could signal a major issue with blood flow in the body. This could be the result of emotional distress, anxiety, caffeine, fever, drugs, anemia, extreme fear, or rigorous physical activity.
A quickened heartbeat may or may not be accompanied by the following symptoms, but if it is, contact your physician right away:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest fluttering, tightness, or pressure
- Jumping pulse
Barring a medical emergency, you can slow down your racing heart with deep breathing exercises, meditation, or with a splash of cold water on your face. Regular episodes of tachycardia could be linked to habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, or caffeine. Consider cutting those things out.
Once you get the hang of checking your heart rate, you’ll know what is normal for you, and you may also decide to set a target heart rate to get your cardiovascular system in better shape. To achieve that, it’s recommended to engage in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Click on the informative video below to learn how to check your own pulse and calculate your target heart rate. Besides touching your wrist or neck, the American Heart Association states that you can check your pulse by using the inside of your elbow, the top of your foot, or behind your knee.
Do you know what your normal heart rate is? Have you ever had a scare with a rapid or extremely low heartbeat? How do you manage a racing heart?
American Heart Association