Most of us move through our days with very little awareness of our heart and the essential work it does to keep us alive.
The number of times it beats in a minute while we are relaxing at home — also known as our resting heart rate — might not seem important, but even a 20 beats per minute (bpm) difference in heart rate can shave years off your life.
This article will explain some of the causes and symptoms of a high resting heart rate and give you ideas about how to lower it.
What is a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
The average resting heart rate — also known as pulse rate — for adults is somewhere between 60 to 90 bpm. According to the American Heart Association, a high resting heart rate is fine if it doesn’t exceed 100 bpm.(1)
Some athletes have a low resting heart rate that sits around 40 bpm. This low pulse rate can be attributed to the effect that aerobic exercise can have on increasing the strength and efficiency of the heart, causing it to need to beat less to distribute blood throughout the body.
What is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is the medical term for when your heart beats over 100 bpm and affects resting heart rate because it causes irregular heart rhythms (also known as arrhythmias).
Your heart beats as a result of electrical impulses that signal to the chambers to contract. Irregular heart rhythms either cause the two ventricles of your heart to beat out of synch or to beat before the heart has been completely filled with blood.
These irregularities can result in your organs and tissues not getting enough blood and can lead to symptoms like:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
We live in a high-stress world that sees as many as 450,00 people die each year from cardiac-related illnesses. This poses the question, can tachycardia be caused by anxiety?(2)
While anxiety is one of the leading causes of a high pulse rate, other factors can also contribute to an elevated resting heart rate.
What Causes High Pulse Rate?
- Hot temperatures
- Too much caffeine
- High or low blood pressure
- Stress/ anxiety
- Physical activity
Many factors can lead to a sudden increase in resting heart rate. Some, like an increase in body temperature or intense physical activity, are completely non-threatening; eventually, you can expect your heart rate to return to normal.
Can anxiety increase heart rate?
When we feel anxious, our bodies release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which cause our hearts to beat faster.
If you’re often wondering, ‘why is my resting heart rate so high?’ it could be the byproduct of living with constant stress and anxiety, which can eventually lead to more serious cases of tachycardia.(3)
Can dehydration cause high heart rate?
Another surprising and easily fixable cause of high pulse rate is not drinking enough water.(4) Dehydration has been clinically proven to lead to higher-than-normal heart rates due to lower blood volume and an imbalance of electrolytes. Low blood volume causes your heart to beat faster to distribute blood throughout the body, while electrolyte imbalances affect the function of all your muscles, including your heart.(5,6)
How to Calculate Your Resting Heart Rate
There are two places on your body where you can easily check your pulse.
One is located on your wrist, just below your thumb. The other is on either side of your neck, around one inch below the middle of your jaw.
To calculate your resting heart rate, count the number of beats in a 15-second period and multiply it by four (# of beats in 15 seconds × 4 = resting heart rate), or you can just input your numbers into the calculator below.
For the most accurate reading, try calculating your heart rate as soon as you wake up while you’re still lying in bed and before you’ve had any caffeine.
How to Lower Heart Rate
If you’re looking for ways to lower your heart rate, you’re in the right place. In this section, you can find several holistic lifestyle changes that can increase your heart’s strength and efficiency, which can lead to a lower heart rate.
Do aerobic exercises
Running is one of the best forms of exercise for getting your heart pumping and improving your cardiovascular health. Your heart is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in your body, it will take time to become stronger. After you start a new fitness regime, give your body time to adapt. If you need help getting started on your running journey, download the free adidas Running app to track your workouts and connect with the adidas Running community for support.
Since stress is one of the leading causes of tachycardia, finding new ways to regulate stressful emotions can help. Taking on practices like yoga and meditation can help you learn new ways to manage stress and decrease your cortisol levels for good.
It’s recommended for men to drink 3 liters (.08 gallons) of water per day, while women should drink 2.2 liters (0.6 gallons.)(7) This amount of fluids is more than enough to keep the body hydrated and reduce hydration-related heart rate increases.
Get better sleep
Poor sleep — trouble falling asleep, waking up throughout the night, and waking too early in the morning — can cause chest pain and heart arrhythmias.(8) If you have a high heart rate while sleeping, it probably means that you never enter deep sleep since your heart rate generally drops 20-30% during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While getting more sleep might be helpful, creating a proper nighttime routine that leads to uninterrupted sleep will likely be more impactful.
Eat a heart-healthy diet
The food you eat can affect your heart rate because it alters your blood pressure. Eating low-sodium foods that are good for your heart can improve your heart health and, over time, begin lowering your resting heart rate.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what causes a high pulse rate and what you can do to lower your resting heart rate. Things like doing more cardio, reducing stress, and drinking more water are simple lifestyle changes you can make to begin lowering your heart rate and preventing more serious tachycardia symptoms.
Melinda is a research journalist working performing her duties as chief editor at this news station. She is a talented writer and comes up with facts everybody wants to know.