Tachycardia is a condition where your heart rate is very high. How fast your heart beats depends on your age and overall physical condition. In general, a heart rate that’s above 100 beats per minute (BPM) is considered too high for adults. A very fast heart rate can be disturbing and reason to panic. However, some causes of a rapid heart rate can be harmless. For instance, if your heart beats very fast after climbing a flight of stairs, you can slow it down by relaxing and taking deep breaths. But, if you suddenly feel your resting heart racing accompanied by chest pain, you should call 911 immediately.
Causes of a Fast Heart Rate
If your heart beats very fast when you’re resting, it may indicate a poor physical shape or one of the following:
- Too much caffeine in your system.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Drug abuse.
- An underlying health problem
How to Slow a Fast Heart Rate
Heart health can be affected by your lifestyle and the type of food you eat. Basically, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and highly nutritious foods is good for your heart. However, in the event of a sudden spiking in your heart rate, the following tips can help lower it.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
As a first response, try to slow your breathing. This is not difficult to accomplish, and with practice, you can achieve it with ease. Slow deep breathes will help you relax until the heart palpitations pass. Take a long slow breath through your nose and count to three. Slowly exhale through pursed lips and try to relax your shoulder, face, and stomach muscles. Repeat this exercise three or more times until your heart starts to relax.
2. Splash Your Face with Cold Water
Take ice water and pour it on your face or alternatively, deep your face in ice water. This stimulates the vagus nerve to slow down the heart rate by causing a dive reflex. The dive reflex is what slows down your metabolism and is what makes it possible for some people to survive underwater for a long time. Keep your face in the ice water until you notice a drop in your heart rate.
3. Perform the Valsalva Maneuver
This exercise will try to relax your heart rate by stimulating the vagus nerve which regulates your heart rate. Take a deep breath and squeeze your abdominal muscles the way you would when having a bowel movement. Hold the pressure for about five seconds before letting go. Repeat multiple times until you notice your heart slowing down. Other activities that you can try to stimulate the vagus nerve include coughing and gagging yourself.
4. Get Prescription Drugs
If you frequently experience fast heart rates, then you should ask for prescription drugs from your doctor. Set up an appointment to discuss the best medications to help lower your heart rate. Some medications may have side effects and it’s important that you understand how they’ll affect you before you start taking them.
5. Massage Your Carotid Artery
The carotid artery runs down your throat, just below your jaw, and is located next to the vagal nerve. By firmly massaging the carotid artery using your fingertips, you can stimulate the vagal nerve which might help slow down your heart rate. Note that extra caution should be taken because you could accidentally knock off a piece of a blood clot and cause a stroke. If possible only allow a qualified person to do these exercises. These tips will come in handy when you notice a sudden spike in your heart rate. However, if this is something that occurs often, the following tips will be helpful in the long run:
6. Quit Smoking
Cigarettes have major harmful effects on your health. Smoking causes damage to the heart vessel and other irreversible damages. Quitting smoking can repair the cells and lower your heart rate.
7. Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Excessive caffeine and alcohol in your bloodstream raise blood pressure and heart rate. While the elevated heart rate is temporary it can cause panic attacks and anxiety. Alcohol is a toxin and your body works extra hard to eliminate it, thereby, straining your heart. Both caffeine and alcohol cause dehydration which increase the workload of your heart. Cutting caffeine and alcohol consumption will gradually slow your heart rate.
8. Eat Healthy Balanced Meals
A healthy diet is your best solution to good health. Always make wise food choices and avoid high-sugar, high-fat processed foods. As a general rule, opt for lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes, plenty of water, and nuts and you’ll notice an overall improvement in your heart health and general health.
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