If you want to know more about your health, we have a few words from the heart.
Your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health, and while some of what it says may seem scary, don’t worry, there are ways to make it better. At Tri-City Medical Center we see patients with high resting heart rates lower theirs to healthier levels all the time.
Here’s a little background on just what your heart might be trying to tell you.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute when you’re not active. The normal range is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is above 100 it’s called tachycardia, below 60 and it’s brachycardia. Increasingly, experts pin an ideal resting heart rate at between 50 to 70 beats per minute.
If you want to find out your resting heart rate, pick a time when you’re not active, find your pulse, count how many times it beats in 30 seconds, and then double that number. You may want to check it several times throughout the day, or over a week, to average out the number, and to look for any irregularities.
Resting heart rate can change from person to person and throughout the day, influenced by everything from your mood to your environment. It rises when you’re excited or anxious, and sometimes in response to smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee. More athletic people tend to have lower heart rates.
What Your Rate Says About Your Cardiovascular Health
Your heart is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body, and if you’re having heart troubles, the rest of your body will be impacted too.
A higher resting heart rate can be dangerous because it taxes the heart, making it work harder. It’s linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death, just like high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Resting heart rates that near or exceed 100 can indicate risk, and should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
That said, a heart rate that’s too low is risky too. This is less because a low heart rate is likely to cause any issues, than because it can indicate underlying illness like an underactive thyroid, Lyme disease, or even a heart attack.
Your resting heart rate’s pace and regularity can tell you something about your cardiovascular health too. If you find the beats are not regular, and you suffer from fatigue, dizziness, confusion, or can’t exercise, it could mean something more serious is going on.
How Can You Improve — or Lower — Yours?
There are several ways you can lower your resting heart rate to a healthier level, and minimize the risk it poses.
Athletes have lower heart rates because exercise is proven to lower it. You don’t have to run a marathon to see results: incorporating 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine is a good place to start. Take it slow and find out what works for you, and make sure to exercise carefully and after consulting your doctor.
Relaxation techniques can help too. If you’ve ever had an interest in yoga or meditation, now is the time to try it out. Experts say relaxation techniques are effective at lowering high resting heart rates. This is especially true when the high rate is associated with high anxiety, because relaxation tends to address the root problem.
Finally, medication is always an option when you need to lower your resting heart rate. To have an elevated rate for an extended or even short period of time poses the risk of wearing out your heart. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor about the right medication to bring your rate down to healthier levels, and work on finding the cause and alternative solutions after.
Ultimately, finding the cause of a high resting heart rate with the help of your doctor or medical team is the first step in preventing, combating, and managing unhealthy rates, so check your rate and book an appointment with your doctor to confirm it.