Tachycardia is a medical term used to describe a rapid heartbeat--that is, when the heart beats more than 100 times per minute. People who experience this condition usually present with difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea and lightheadedness. The condition stems from the body's sympathetic network system becoming active and releasing chemicals to prepare the body to "take flight" or "speed up"--but other factors can also stimulate this system besides fear or anxiety. Food and drugs can also cause tachycardia. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce a fast-beating heart.
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Learn a vagel maneuver to slow your rapid heartbeat. Basically, this is the opposite system to the sympathetic system, called the parasympathetic network, and it functions to slow the heartbeat. When stimulated, the vagal nerve helps to slow the heart rate. Take a deep, long breath and "bear down" or force your body downward for several minutes as if you were having a bowel movement. This should temporarily slow the tachycardia. This method can be dangerous if it lowers your heart rate too far. Consult your health care provider before using this technique. Another vagel maneuver is to massage the carotid artery gently. The arteries are found running up along both sides of the neck. Ask a professional medical doctor to demonstrate how to do this technique correctly.
Reduce the amount of caffeine in your food and beverages. Drink less tea and coffee because the caffeine in the drinks will exacerbate the condition and make it worse.
Use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body to try to reduce the rapid heartbeat. Do these techniques when you feel an episode of tachycardia starting.
Keep a good level intake of potassium and magnesium because these chemicals will help to reduce the rapid heartbeat. Eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, and take daily supplements to ensure you get the recommended daily amount of nutrients. Consult your health care provider before ingesting any herbal or mineral supplements. Overdoses of potassium and magnesium can be dangerous.
Try biofeedback, which is a relaxation technique that helps you identify signals from your body to calm it down. Biofeedback may help the tachycardia and could reduce the frequency of attacks.
Keep mentally and physically active every day through exercise. Reduce the stress in your life and establish positive relationships with yourself and with others. Stay happy and reduce worries in your life.
Tips and warnings
- Get a regular physical exam with your medical doctor, especially if you are experiencing tachycardia regularly or if you feel you have an abnormal or arrhythmic heartbeat. A doctor can rule out a potentially fatal condition, called ventricular tachycardia, associated with a section of the heart called the ventricle. Ventricular tachycardia must be treated immediately by a doctor; if left untreated, it can lead to death. A regular checkup will also rule out other types of heart disease that could be causing the problem.
- Some other medical conditions, such as thyroid problems or pulmonary malfunctions, can cause rapid heartbeat.