This Morning: Dr Chris discusses rise in heart disease deaths
A racing heartbeat can be overwhelming and scary, especially if this isn’t a normal sensation for you. If your heart is beating really fast, you may need to get it checked out. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Manav Bhushan, Co Founder of Fourth Frontier to find out what a fast heartbeat means.
Why is my heart beating so fast?
Don’t panic, a fast heartbeat or fast heart rate is normal in certain circumstances.
Dr Bhushan said: “ A person may have a high Heart Rate for a number of reasons.
“Heart rate increases as a result of exercise at a high intensity, or high temperature or humidity, or dehydration, or even intake of caffeine.”
The heart rate is much slower when you are sleeping or relaxing.
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What is a fast heartbeat?
A fast heartbeat is determined by your heart rate.
Heart rate is measured by taking your pulse and counting how many times your heart beats in a minute.
As your heart pumps blood through your body, you can feel it pulsing in blood vessels close to the skin’s surface.
The easiest areas to check your pulse are your wrist, neck, or upper arm.
To get your resting heart rate, you need to have been resting for at least 5 minutes before checking your pulse.
Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100bpm- this is considered normal.
However, the fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be.
That’s why it isn’t uncommon for athletes to have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm or lower – this isn’t unhealthy.
If you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 40bpm, you should see a GP.
However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it could mean that this rate is normal for you.
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While checking your heart rate gives you a good indication of how fast your heart is beating, it may not be the best measure.
Dr Bhushan said: “Heart Rate can be a measure of your effort levels, since it is influenced by so many other factors.
“However, it actually turns out that your Breathing rate is a much better measure of your effort levels than heart rate.”
Dr Bhushan recommended having an electrocardiogram (ECG) instead.
He said: “An ECG is a simple test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
“Sensors attached to the skin are used to detect the electrical signals produced by your heart each time it beats.”
Is a high heart rate dangerous?
While a fast HR is usually harmless, since it is a natural response to exercise or increase in temperature or humidity, it can indicate something serious if it is also accompanied by abnormal changes in your ECG, Dr Bhushan said.
He explained: “A faster than normal HR should be checked out if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as discomfort in the chest or palpitations or dizziness.
“The best way of determining whether the high HR indicates anything serious is to get a quick ECG scan or a continuous ECG recording, which can tell you whether the electrical functioning of your heart is normal or not.”
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