Your pulse rate is a measure of how fast your heart is beating. Most people measure this in terms of beats per minute. The average rate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute for adults, but when it exceeds 100 beats, that person is said to have a high pulse rate. High pulse rate is also known as tachycardia.
An elevated pulse rate can be caused by many different reasons. If the high pulse rate is temporary, it's nothing to worry about. A sustained high pulse rate might be a different story, however.
When your pulse is high, sometimes you can feel your heart beating at a rapid rate. You might have the feeling of a pounding, forceful or racing heartbeat. Medically, these are known as palpitations. If the fast heartbeat continues or gets even faster, that can lead to problems. A high pulse rate can caught shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting and chest pain.
Causes of High Pulse Rate
Sometimes the reason for a high pulse rate is very simple: you had too much caffeine, or you ate something that didn't agree with you. But if it happens frequently, something might be wrong inside, and it's time to get to a doctor for treatment.
- Excessive Activity. Exercise naturally drives up your pulse rate. This is entirely normal, and should actually be considered a good thing - you want to get your pulse rate up to know that you are exercising effectively. But if it doesn't come down after exercising, then you need to see a doctor.
- Medication Side Effects. One of the most common reasons for a high pulse rate is medications. Some medications, including decongestants, can make your pulse rate go up even if you are sitting down and doing nothing at all. Asthma medications can be a culprit, too. The high pulse rate will usually go down as the medication wears off.
- Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can send your heart rate up. In fact, studies have shown that even the thought of caffeine can make your heart rate go up! If you have been drinking too much caffeine and you feel an unpleasant high pulse rate, the effect should go away when the caffeine is out of your system.
- Alcohol Consumption. Those who drink large amounts of alcohol are putting more stress on their heart, requiring it to beat faster. That can lead to a high pulse rate. You can avoid this problem by drinking only in moderation. If you have been drinking heavily and your pulse rate worries you, get to the emergency room.
- Electrolyte Imbalance. Our bodies need the proper amount of electrolytes to function at normal levels. When you are dehydrate from vomiting, not eating or drinking enough, suffering from a high fever or taking diuretic medications, your electrolytes might be out of balance, and that means your heart can speed up. If this is happening to you, get fluids into you as soon as possible, and visit the doctor if it doesn't get better.
- Hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland can cause heart palpitations when it releases too many hormones at once. This feeling might come or go, or it might be constant. In this case, you might need to take certain medications to help keep your thyroid and your high pulse rate under control.
- Heart Diseases. Some heart ailments can cause your pulse rate to go up. High blood pressure, congenital heart disease, and aortic regurgitation are just a few of the problems with your heart that can lead to a high pulse rate. If you have any of these issues, make sure your doctor is aware of the high pulse rate.
- Lung Diseases. Lung problems such as pneumonia or emphysema can mean your lungs and heart have to work harder to get your blood to where it needs to be. This hard work of your heart meant that your pulse rate goes up. Your doctor will likely expect this, and can provide medications that can help.
If you are experiencing a high pulse rate that doesn't go away, you should head to the emergency room to be evaluated. Doctors will likely measure your pulse rate with their fingertips at first, then use tests to diagnose why you have such a high pulse rate. After the use of tests, including an electrocardiogram or EKG, other cardiovascular tests might be ordered.
Preventions for Future High Pulse Rate
If you have had a high pulse rate in the past, you can try these tips to make sure it doesn't happen again.
- Do Cardio Exercise. The more you exercise, the more likely you are to have a lower resting pulse rate. This is because you are strengthening your heart every time you participate in cardiovascular activity.
- Keep a Healthy Weight. Those who are overweight usually have a higher pulse rate than those who are of a healthy weight. By keeping your weight down, your heart doesn't have to work as hard, and that means a high pulse rate is rarely an issue.
- Manage Your Stress. Stress can make your pulse rate go up, and the more stress you have in your life, the higher that pulse rate can go. Over time, you might even become accustomed to a high pulse rate, which isn't a good thing! Learn to manage stress to bring down that rate.
- Reduce Caffeine Consumption. Caffeine is a big culprit when it comes to a racing heart. By reducing your caffeine intake, you can gradually lower your heart rate so that you don't have the scary sensation of a high pulse rate.
- Limit Sugar Intake. Foods filled with sugar can raise your glucose levels, and that in turn can increase your heart rate. Eat foods filled with fiber instead - these can give you a long-lasting energy without the jolt to your heart.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking is a huge reason for serious high pulse rates. This is because smoking makes your lungs work much harder, and that in turn makes the rest of your body struggle. Stop smoking and you will see a decrease in your pulse rate.