Breathing Exercises for an Irregular Heartbeat

Breathing deeply with your lungs can slow a rapid heartbeat.

A normal heartbeat consists of 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to Medline Plus. Irregular heartbeat, also called arrhythmia, has the heart racing, pounding or skipping beats. The effects often are felt in the chest, throat and neck. An irregular heartbeat usually is not serious and can be caused by exercise, fever, caffeine intake or anxiety. According to Discovery Health, breathing deeply and correctly can deliver more oxygen cells to the body, reducing stress and calming an irregular heartbeat. It also remedies any overstimulation to the sympathic nervous system and lowers a rapid heartbeat.


Complete Breathing

Breathing deeply and completely can help slow down a rapid heartbeat and promote overall heart health. According to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, rapid and shallow breathing actually can lead to heart disease. To practice complete breathing, sit up straight and exhale, then inhale while relaxing your stomach muscles. You will get the sensation that your stomach is filling with air. Continue inhaling until you feel your chest expand, and hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale as slowly as you can while relaxing your muscles, then pull in stomach muscles tightly to force out the last bit of breath. Do this while closing your eyes for 5 minutes.


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Abdominal Breathing

The American Medical Student Association says abdominal breathing increases stamina and blood flow, which can be relaxing and beneficial for an irregular heartbeat. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale deeply, with the hand on your abdomen raised higher than the hand on your chest. Continue this breathing for 5 minutes, exhaling through your mouth and inhaling completely through your nose. According to the American Medical Student Association, respirations become deeper over time by continually exhaling air completely.


Chinese Breathing

Chinese breathing exercises can reduce anxiety and increase energy, which helps regulate heartbeat. The University of Missouri-Kansas City recommends three short inhales through your nose without exhaling. During the first inhale, raise your arms straight out in front of your body. During the second, raise them out to your sides, and, for the third, raise them straight above your head. Exhale completely while lowering your arms back down to their starting position. This exercise should be performed 10 times while sitting.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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