In most cases your heart rate will settle down shortly after.
To properly measure your heart rate you will need to sit down or lie down and relax before for 5 or more minutes. Only this way will you be able to get an accurate and relevant reading.
Measured heart rate when a person is relaxed is also known as resting heart rate. In most cases, resting heart rate is noticeably lower than average heart rate.
2 most common methods of measuring heart rate; image source: healthiack.com
What is normal heart rate?
A healthy heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute in resting adults. Even though you are generally healthy and in good shape your heart rate may vary. This is mostly due to genetic predispositions. Try this heart rate assessment tool to check your values.
Some highly trained athletes can have their normal heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute, or even less. Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist, had a resting heart rate of 32!
Prolonged increase in resting heart rate may signal health issues
If you get consistent readings of over 100 beats per minute, then you may have tachycardia. Tachycardia is not necessarily a major health problem, but it can render your heart less efficient, which in turn can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, and sometimes you may even experience fainting and chest pain. This happens due to the fact that there is not enough oxygenated blood in your body.
How to quickly measure your heart rate without a heart rate monitor?
Before measuring your heart rate relax for few minutes. Place your two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, located on the thumb side of your wrist. Count the number of beats for 10 seconds and then multiply this number by 6.
Although the procedure is very trivial this method is considered very accurate.
Possible causes of increased heart rate
You must differentiate between momentary and constant high heart rates, so monitor monitor your pulse regularly. In other words, aside from momentary stress, anxiety, or physical activity, tachycardia can also be caused by an overall health condition, by specific heart conditions, pregnancy, genetic defects, or stimulant consumption.
Common health conditions include hyperthyroidism (when you have an overactive thyroid), and lung diseases, like emphysema (characterized by a shortness of breath even while you are resting).
Heart conditions that can cause high pulse rates include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (a poor supply of blood reaching the heart muscle), heart valve disease, heart failure, as well as diseases, tumors or infections of the heart muscle. Moreover, some heart medications can have side effects, manifesting as increased pulse.
Elevation of your heart rate can be normal during pregnancy, even while resting, but it can also signal a problem, especially when your heart rate increases suddenly, or you feel light-headed, anxious or short-breathed.
During the first trimester, progesterone and estrogen levels increase and may trigger an elevation of your pulse. The heart continues to beat faster, peaking during the second trimester; this may trigger problems, especially if you have any heart irregularities that you weren’t aware of.
See your doctor immediately if you experience a racing pulse, skipped heartbeats, palpitations and persistent cough, lightheadedness, fainting spells, and shortness of breath even when resting.
Another cardiac peak occurs in the third trimester, between weeks 28 and 35. Moreover, at about 40 weeks, when the pregnancy approaches the end, the volume of blood your body circulates increases to 40 – 90% above the volume registered before pregnancy. Finally, another increase in heart rate can be seen during labor, when contractions occur.
The pulse rate elevates in pregnancy to ensure your proper physiologic functioning, as well as the development of your baby, and if your heart is healthy, it can withstand these changes.
A genetic birth defect can cause abnormal electrical pathways, while stimulants like cigarettes, recreational drugs, and alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in large amounts can also lead to tachycardia. Finally, an elevated pulse rate can also be blamed on an electrolyte imbalance, that is, when your levels of potassium, calcium, sodium and other minerals are too low.
How to combat prolonged increased heart rate
To decrease your racing heart rate permanently there is much you can do on your own without the need of drugs.
A temporary increase in heart rate is never alarming. Prolonged increase in heart rate might be a sign that you need to visit a doctor. In many cases you can lower your heart rate zones by following tips above.