The average heart at rest beats about 60 to 80 times a minute, and gets slightly quicker as you age. Prescription medications can lower a heart rate that beats dangerously fast. Doctors also have a technique (which can be dangerous outside of a medical setting) called carotid sinus massage to stop a racing heart. But you can take some steps on your own to slow a fast heart rate.
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A heart that is stressed is a heart that is beating faster than it should. Do what you can to reduce stress levels in your life through relaxation techniques, meditation, biofeedback, yoga or Tai chi. The slow, deep breaths of all of these practices can help soothe your heart.
Cold water helps slow the heart rate, especially if you are under stress, says Sid Kirchheimer and the editors of "Prevention" magazine health books, in "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies," (Rodale, 1993.) So, chill out beneath a cold shower.
Some of the first medications doctors may prescribe to treat a racing heart are calcium channel blockers since excessive heartbeats can be triggered by excess calcium. Cut down on your calcium intake, and increase your magnesium and manganese (found in soy products, leafy vegetables and nuts) and you may be able to achieve similar results.
An infusion of two parts motherwart and one part valerian make a relaxing and soothing tea that can help treat heart palpitations, according to "The Complete Book of Home Herbal" remedies by Jade Britton and Tamara Kircher. Other herbs that can be helpful include skullcap, passion flower, chamomile or limeblossom.
Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart. Increasing your physical fitness level is likely to reduce your resting heart rate, but, especially if you have an underlying heart disorder, get clearance from your doctor before embarking on a strenuous workout program.
Since they can raise your heart rate, products containing caffeine are best avoided. That includes coffee, diet pills, chocolate and caffeinated soft drinks.
- Mayo Clinic: Relaxation techniques: Learn ways to reduce your stress
- "The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs"; Reader's Digest Association; 1999