How to regulate a fast heart rate
Your body has a complex and sophisticated system that controls your heart rate from time to time. Several nerves throughout your body continuously monitor your blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, blood pH, body position, and other parameters that reflect your current physical and emotional state.
The cardiovascular control centers in your brain collect and integrate information from these nerves and transmit signals to your heart pacemaker to maintain, increase, or decrease your heart rate. All of this happens outside of your consciousness.
However, you can often voluntarily lower your heart rate by taking steps to influence the signals sent to the brain’s cardiovascular control centers. If your heart is beating too fast due to a medical problem, medications and other interventions may be used to lower your heart rate.
Reduce or stop physical activity
Your level of physical activity is one of the most important factors influencing your heart rate. As your level of physical activity increases, so does your heart rate. This adjustment ensures that your active muscles receive the increased blood flow they require without shortening the supply of blood and oxygen to your brain and other organs.
Reducing or stopping physical activity typically results in a fairly rapid slowing of your heart rate. You can observe this response in real time if you use a physical activity tracker that monitors your heart rate.
Decrease your breathing speed
Their circulatory and respiratory systems work together, and the activities of one influence those of the other. The closely intertwined relationships between breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are medically known as cardiorespiratory coupling.
Slowed breathing usually reduces the heart rate. This is true even if you’re not breathing faster than a typical rate, as noted in a December 2017 review article published in the journal Breathe.
Several mechanisms are believed to contribute to this effect, including a greater volume of air entering the lungs with each breath and more efficient gas exchange in the lungs, among others. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing or slow yogic breathing exercises, or pranayama, can help you learn to lower both your breathing rate and heart rate.
Your mental state and emotions influence your heart rate, sometimes dramatically. Fear, anxiety, worry, nervousness, and stress activate a part of your involuntary nervous system called the sympathetic branch. This arm of your nervous system triggers the fight-or-flight response and controls the cardiovascular and respiratory adaptations that occur when you exercise.
As expected, increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system in response to mental or emotional stress commonly leads to a rapid, sometimes accelerated heart rate. Relaxation can help reduce your sympathetic system’s exaggerated response to psychological or emotional stress.
Finding out which relaxation technique works and best suits your needs may require a little experimentation. Popular techniques include meditation, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and prayer.
Other Considerations, Warnings and Precautions
A rapid heart rate sometimes indicates a short-term or long-term health problem, some more serious than others. Certain types of heart rhythm problems, or arrhythmias, and anxiety disorders associated with a rapid heart rate can often be successfully treated with medications. More serious arrhythmias often require the placement of a pacemaker to control the heart rate.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you notice that your heart rate is frequent or persistently fast without an obvious cause, such as exercise. This is especially important if you have existing heart disease, experience a decrease in your ability to exercise, notice a lump in your neck, or are unintentionally losing weight.
Seek emergency medical attention if you experience rapid and/or irregular heartbeats accompanied by any warning signs or symptoms, including
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
Chest pain, tightness, or discomfort
Chills, unusual sweating, or cool, clammy skin