Your heart rate rhythm, also referred to as your pulse, has a significant impact on your overall health. In fact, if your heart rate is too high while resting or performing certain activities, it can have catastrophic results. The healthy functionality of your heart is crucial.
It’s commonly known that the human heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body and to its organs. But how does your heart’s rhythm factor into your overall health? And if your resting heart rate is above the normal range, how do you lower it? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of your heart rate and offer tips for reducing and keeping it healthy.
What Is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?
Different activities during the day will lead to fluctuations in your pulse. When you exercise, for instance, your heart rate tends to rise. Alternatively, when you’re relaxing, the heart rate will generally lower and stabilize. While heart rates and rhythms will vary from person to person, it’s generally accepted that adults should have a resting or average heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Resting heart rates can also vary according to age. Below is an example of expected average target heart rates in beats per minute (bpm) by age:
- 20 Years Old: 100-170 bpm
- 30 Years Old: 95-162 bpm
- 40 Years Old: 93-157 bpm
- 50 Years Old: 88-149 bpm
- 60 Years Old: 83-140 bpm
- 70 Years Old: 75-128 bpm
How to Check Your Resting Heart Rate
It’s essential to check in on your heart rate regularly to ensure it’s within a normal or healthy range. For the most accurate results, check first thing in the morning prior to consuming anything or exerting yourself. Either on your wrist or the side of your neck, place your index and middle finger and proceed to count how many beats your heart has within 60 seconds. Check your results in comparison to the chart referenced above.
What Causes Higher Resting Heart Rates?
In certain situations, your resting heart rate can increase to over 100 beats per minute; this can be expected and even normal depending on the contributing factor. It’s vital that heart rate increases are temporary and not prolonged or regularly occurring.
Temporary causes of increased heart rates can be:
- High heat
- High caffeine intake
- Extreme emotional stress
- Fluctuations in hormones
- High alcohol consumption
- Certain medications
- Street drugs
- Episodes of panic, anxiety, or stress
Sometimes, certain underlying conditions or factors that can lead to prolonged increased heart rates in people. Some examples of these causes can include:
- Prior history of heart attack or damage to the heart muscle
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Organ failure
- Inactive lifestyles
- Electrolyte imbalance
Symptoms Caused by Increased Heart Rates
When extenuated higher resting heart rates occur, symptoms can range and sometimes be severe or even cause death. Depending on the cause of your increased heart rate, sometimes symptoms aren’t felt at all. Some commonly seen symptoms and complications from increased heart rates can include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Faster than normal pulse
- Heart palpitations
- Blood clots
- Cardiac arrest
- Heart failure
If you are concerned about or experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to contact your doctor to discuss testing and treatment. Chest pain, fainting, or difficulty breathing should warrant an immediate call to 911.
How to Lower Your Heart Rate
When you’re experiencing a long-term higher resting heart rate, it’s crucial that you take steps to lower it for your health. Below are some tips that may help you reduce your rate and improve your heart health:
- Meditate – By meditating or practicing mindfulness, stress and anxiety levels can sometimes be reduced and lower your heart rate.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake – Regularly reducing stimulants, such as coffee, tea, and soda, can lower your present resting heart rate and contribute to a healthier rate being achieved over time.
- Eat Better – Your diet directly impacts your heart health and resting rates. By balancing what you eat and focusing on consuming heart-healthy foods, such as fish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, you can potentially begin experiencing lower resting heart rates.
- Sleep – Getting plenty of sleep helps your body and heart maintain healthy organ function.
- Reduce Stress – Regular high levels of stress and anxiety can lead to higher resting heart rates over time. By seeking counseling, changing your environment, or doing yoga, you can seek to lower your resting heart rate.
- Lower Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol can affect your resting heart rate due to dehydration and the increased work your kidneys and liver have to do to filter out toxins. Lowering or eliminating alcohol consumption can contribute to your heart health over time.
- Go Outside – According to a Journal of Environmental Psychology article in 2014, going outside and experiencing nature can reduce stress, potentially reducing your resting heart rate.
- Exercise Regularly – Physical activity is known to be one of the most beneficial ways to reduce resting heart rates and improve overall health.
- Drink More Water – By staying hydrated and drinking more water, your body is able to maintain blood flow better.
Medical Treatments for High Resting Heart Rate
It’s important to coordinate with your doctor promptly if you are experiencing higher resting heart rates for prolonged periods of time. Depending on the cause, symptoms, and length of time experienced, elevated heart rates will sometimes require medical intervention to achieve normalization. Some conventional medical treatments for high resting heart rates can include:
- Cardioversion – Electric shock delivered through paddles or patches in the hospital to restore normal rhythm.
- Antiarrhythmic Medication – Injected or orally taken medications provided in the hospital can help achieve heartbeat regularity.
- Vagal Maneuvers – This procedure simply consists of coughing or heaving and then putting an ice pack on the face.
- Surgery – When other methods prove ineffective, surgery can sometimes help by creating and rerouting scar tissue in order to reduce electrical conductivity.