Have you ever been concerned about the hammering of your heart in your chest? I’m sure I have. I sometimes worry if it’s normal for my heart to sprint so much after working out or running to catch a train.
According to Mariell Jessup, MD, FACC, FACP, FAHA, cardiologist and American Heart Association (AHA) Go Red for Women staff specialist, “it turns out, it really is.”
In many respects, your heartbeat is just data, and it’s quite natural for it to race in a variety of scenarios. Dr. Jessup breaks down six scenarios below so that you can relax even if you’re in one of the following heart-rate-raising circumstances.
1. When you transition from relaxing to rushing
Dr. Jessup explains that suddenly increasing your activity demands more energy, which requires more oxygen, which is why you breathe harder and have a faster heartbeat. If you’re about to be late, it’s also probable that you’re feeling mental distress, which might affect your heart.
In rapid-response circumstances, stress chemicals such as adrenaline jump, increasing heart rate and breathing, according to Dr. Jessup. Your adrenaline doesn’t immediately drop once you’ve leaped into action and done your assignment. As a result, even though you’re quiet, your heart may still be beating.
2. When you’re in a stimulating atmosphere
“Your heart can race as a result of stress, fear, arousal, and anxiety, which can happen when you’re in a new scenario. This is a perfectly normal and healthy reaction from the body “Dr. Jessup agrees. This might be anything from taking an exam to auditioning for a part to kissing a date for the first time.
If your heart is racing, going to the bathroom and taking some deep breaths can assist. According to the Mayo Clinic, diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which might reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight reaction.”
Your brain detects that it’s time to relax as your breath slows, and fight or flight processes like your heart rate slow as well.
3. If you’re irritated or stressed
Dr. Jessup explains that strong emotions like anger and stress might activate your sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline boosts your heart rate in the same way that it does after intense physical exertion.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry or stressed on occasion; however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consistently high-stress levels can harm your mental and physical health, so make sure your tresses aren’t continually raising your heart rate.
4. When you go to sleep for the night
Your cardiovascular system reacts to variations in gravity pressures caused by changing positions: lying down, standing, or sitting. As a result of their individual position, hydration levels, or stress, some people have heart palpitations when lying down.
Unless it’s accompanied by fainting, dizziness, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath, your heart racing at night isn’t normally a cause for alarm. If you have any of these symptoms together with heart palpitations, you should see your doctor right once, according to Dr. Jessup.
5. If you consume coffee or other caffeinated beverages
According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine use is one of the most prevalent causes of heart-racing since it is a substance that directly triggers receptors in the heart to beat quicker. Caffeine, according to Dr. Jessup, might cause the heart to contract more forcefully.
When coffee is a staple in your diet, it’s beneficial to drink water if you’re suffering heart palpitations, she says. Why? Coffee is a diuretic, which means it causes you to pee more frequently, and dehydration can cause your heart rate to increase.
6. When you consume alcoholic beverages
Too much alcohol can make your heart race; the more you drink, the faster your heart will beat. According to Dr. Jessup, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which means the heart must pump more blood to keep the same volume of blood circulating throughout the body.
Alcohol is a diuretic as well. (Recall how we discussed dehydration and heart rate?) When you drink, water can benefit your heart and reduce the likelihood of a hangover.
Alcohol has a short-term effect on the body by increasing heart rate, but long-term heavy alcohol intake can have a negative influence on your heart health by raising blood pressure, putting you at risk for cardiac disorders such as heart attack and stroke.
At the end of the day, this is a partial list—there are a variety of reasons why your heart races. It’s understandable to be concerned about what is and isn’t typical, but the best approach to ensure that nothing worse is going on is to listen to your body.
Any chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or nausea accompanied by an abnormal heartbeat, for example, is a sign you should seek medical attention right once. To keep your heart calm and healthy in the long run, Dr. Jessup recommends addressing mental health, substance usage, food, and water intake.