December 20, 2018
By Kara Mayer Robinson
It’s normal to wonder if your heart is ticking just right. Sometimes you may think it beats too slowly. Or you might worry it’s racing too fast. The truth is, there’s a lot you’ve heard about your pulse that’s flat out wrong. It’s time to set the record straight.
Recent studies suggest a heart rate higher than 76 beats per minute when you’re resting may be linked to a higher risk of heart attack. The better shape you’re in, the slower your heart rate will be when you’re not moving around. “It might be OK to have a resting heart rate of 80, but it doesn’t mean you’re healthy,” Steinbaum says.
“Most of the time these sensations are not life-threatening,” says Apoor Patel, MD, a cardiologist at North Shore-LIJ Medical PC in Manhasset, N.Y.
Many things can cause palpitations, like:
Dietary supplements like goldenseal, oleander, motherwort, or ephedra “Having an irregular heartbeat doesn’t mean you’re having a heart attack,” Steinbaum says. But if it’s a new symptom, or if you have chest pains or problems breathing, call your doctor.
When you stand up, your pulse may go up for 15 to 20 seconds before it goes back to normal. Even the weather, like high temperatures or humidity, can raise it. If you take thyroid medication, a fast pulse may be a sign you’re taking too much. Talk to your doctor.
But they’re not always linked. If your heart rate is normal, your blood pressure may not be. It could be too high or too low, and you may not realize it. Even if your heart rate seems fine, get your blood pressure checked regularly.
In general, Patel says, slow rates are only a problem if you also pass out, feel dizzy, are short of breath, or have chest pain. See your doctor if you have any of those symptoms.
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