What to do if your heart is racing

Whether because of a stressful situation or strenuous activity, a racing heart can cause you to panic when it doesn't slow down right away. Many people with anxiety disorders notice that a racing heart is one of the first symptoms of an oncoming panic attack. The trick is to slow your heart before a full scale attack hits by using techniques that will calm you and return your heart to a normal rate.


When a racing heart hits, consider where you are and what might have made your heart begin to race. Some common breathing exercises can help you regain composure and get more oxygen into your heart, if you were exercising, or if you think a panic attack is about to set in. Stop what you are doing, close your eyes and begin breathing in. Inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of ten, and then inhale for a count of ten and exhale for a count of five. Do this until you feel your heartbeat begin to slow. This exercise gets more oxygen into your blood flow and helps you focus on another activity, instead of focusing on your racing heart and making the problem worse.


Redirecting your attention on something else will often help your heart rate to stop racing and return to a normal rate. Often, when your heart is racing, you begin to have anxiety about your racing heart, only making it worse. Try some redirection techniques so that you're able to focus your attention on something else. Try getting a rubber band and putting it around your wrist. Snap it in time with your heart rate. The snapping will redirect your attention to the sharp pain and you will be busy concentrating on keeping it in time with your heart. Soon you'll begin snapping slower and slower, until your heart regulates.

You can also redirect your attention to a visualisation of another calming situation. Close your eyes and think about a person, place or event that is calming to you. Don't focus on your heart.


See your health care provider if you find that you have a lot of instances where your heart is racing, as it may be a medical condition. Panic attacks that result in a racing heart may require anti-anxiety medications from your health care provider. For the best results, next time you feel that you have a racing heart, record what you were doing when it occurred, how long it lasted and how severe it was on a scale from one to ten. Armed with this information, your health care provider can decide how to proceed when medicating the problem.


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About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.