Halloween is almost here, and with it comes all kinds of fun scares that might make our hearts beat faster.
But, what about those other times when our hearts race, and there’s no scare in sight? Sometimes, a fast heartbeat might be telling us something important about our heart health that we shouldn’t ignore.
Our hearts do a lot of work. They pump blood all around our bodies, and a lot depends on them working right. So, when our heartbeat feels off – too fast, too slow, or just strange – it’s something we should pay attention to.
If you googled, “Why is my heartbeat so fast?”, this blog is for you.
The Heartbeat Explained
Every beat of your heart sends a wave of blood through your body, bringing oxygen and important nutrients to all your cells. It’s a vital sign, which is why it’s one of the main things doctors and nurses check to see how well your body is functioning.
Normal vs. Fast Heartbeat
A normal heartbeat for an adult usually falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) when resting. When you exert yourself, your heart naturally beats faster to supply more oxygen everywhere it’s needed, which is entirely normal.
However, sometimes, the heart can start racing even when you’re sitting still or resting. That’s what’s called a fast heartbeat, or tachycardia. Generally, tachycardia refers to a heart rate that’s over 100 bpm in adults when they’re at rest.
Why is My Heartbeat So Fast?
There’s non-medical and medical causes of a fast heartbeat. Let’s explore them both:
Fear & Anxiety
Our bodies often respond to scary or nerve-wracking situations by releasing adrenaline (a hormone) that temporarily makes our hearts beat faster. It’s the body’s way of preparing to respond to the situation. This type of fast heartbeat is typically harmless and calms down once the threatening moment has passed.
Excitement or Physical Activity
Happy surprises or a bit of good news can also make our hearts flutter with excitement.
Similarly, when we engage in physical activities like running, jumping, or other forms of exercise, our hearts pump harder and faster to send more oxygen to the muscles that are working hard. Once you stop and rest, your heartbeat should gradually return to its regular, resting rate.
Too Much Caffeine or Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can stimulate your heart, making it beat faster than usual. It’s normally not a worry if it happens occasionally, but regular, quick heartbeats after consuming coffee or a bevvy might warrant a talk with your doctor.
Sometimes, the reason behind a rapid heartbeat isn’t as light-hearted. Certain heart-related issues, like atrial fibrillation, which is a kind of irregular heartbeat, can make your heart race even when you’re still. Low blood pressure can also impact heartbeat. When your blood pressure is low, your heart compensates by beating faster to try and push enough blood around your body.
It’s crucial to take note if your heart often beats fast for no apparent reason, as managing these conditions might need a doctor’s help to keep your heart happy and healthy.
Other Health Conditions
Other health conditions like a high fever, anemia (when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red cells), or dehydration can also make your heart work overtime. These conditions might stress your body, and your heart responds by beating faster to help out.
Implications of a Fast Heartbeat
Feeling your heart race from time to time, especially during moments of excitement or fright, is perfectly normal.
However, when it continues to beat rapidly for no apparent reason, it can bring about unsettling symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
- Forceful pounding in chest
These symptoms occur because a fast-beating heart isn’t as effective at moving blood (and thus, oxygen) around your body. While usually not dangerous in the short term, these sensations are worth exploring with a healthcare professional if they happen often.
Persistent or recurrent fast heartbeat can be a signal or contributing factor to more serious health conditions, such as:
- Heart failure
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Problems with the heart’s valves or muscles
Over the long term, these issues could elevate the risk of experiencing severe events like a heart attack or stroke. Regular medical checkups with your healthcare provider can help detect potential heart-related issues early, even before they start showing visible signs.
We’ve spent a lot of time answering the question, “Why is my heartbeat so fast?” and as we’ve learned, our hearts can experience the spectrum of emotions and activities we encounter daily. From the skips they take during Halloween scares to the more concerning rapid beats that might indicate underlying health issues, understanding the nuances of our heartbeats is important.
Your heart health is in your hands. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, paying attention to your body, and seeking timely medical advice, you can play a significant role in ensuring its longevity and well-being.
Here’s wishing you a heart-healthy fall season!