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How to Deal with Rapid Heartbeat from Anxiety

Heart palpitations from anxiety
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Umar Javed

Dr. MBBS

Content

Rapid heartbeat, also known as heart palpitations, is a medical condition that occurs when the heart rate races or pounds excessively due to several factors, such as anxiety. The heart rate is typically 60 to 100 beats per minute [1*] , but when someone has anxiety heart palpitations, the heart beats fast, clocking more than 100 beats per minute.

Heart palpitations are common; a recent study suggests that at least one in every four adult Americans over 40 years suffers from irregular heartbeats. These include either exceedingly high or too low heart rates.

Heart palpitations may be a sign of anxiety disorder. Contact MEDvidi to get your symptoms checked.

Main Causes of Heart Palpitations

There are a number of factors that can make a patient get heart palpitations [2*] , including:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and stress
  • Menopause
  • Heavy exercise
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pregnancy or periods
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Decreased red blood cell levels (anemia)
  • Decrease in blood sugar levels
  • Abnormalities in body electrolyte levels
  • Certain medications like stimulants and caffeine
  • Thyroid hormones causing systemic disease
  • Sleep deprivation [3*] (can cause heart palpitations in the mornings)

Although heart palpitations can result from a lot of factors like those mentioned above, one of the most common causes is anxiety.

What Is an Anxiety Heart Palpitation?

Anxiety and heart palpitations typically go hand in hand. In some cases, heart palpitations might also present as a symptom of depression.

When someone has an anxiety heart palpitation, they feel their heart racing, fluttering, or skipping a beat. The heart feels like it’s pounding in the neck, throat, or ears. People typically feel this way after an anxiety attack, although intense excitement might also cause palpitations.

A brief explanation of this process may be as follows: anxiety affects the autonomic nervous system (ANS), triggering the fight or flight response [4*] . That increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate to facilitate fast blood pumping to the rest of the body.

Note that having any anxiety disorder, bipolar, or other mental conditions may affect how a person’s body reacts to stressful situations.

A certified doctor at MEDvidi will help you identify the root cause of anxiety and help manage it.

When to Worry About Heart Palpitations

When a patient has heart palpitations from anxiety, it isn’t usually a cause of concern, so they may not need constant monitoring. Most heart palpitations last a short while, disappearing in seconds, minutes, or a few hours after the cause of anxiety has subsided.

However, there are some instances when a patient needs to worry about heart palpitations. For example, they can be of great concern if they present as a sign of arrhythmias [5*] characterized by an abnormal heartbeat. They can also be a cause of concern if accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • The person feels dizzy or lightheaded
  • Has persistent headache
  • Experiences chest pain
  • Faints when having palpitations
  • Feels breathlessness and fatigue suddenly

An individual should seek immediate medical assistance if they have shortness of breath, pain, tightness around the neck, diaphoresis (excessive sweating), or an anxious feeling in the chest.

When to worry about heart palpitations

How to Stop Heart Palpitations Due to Anxiety

Anxiety-related heart palpitations are rarely dangerous and seldom require treatment. In case of an anxiety attack, the patient may only need to control the triggers causing the palpations.

However, this symptom can still make the patient’s life every bit uncomfortable. For instance, heart palpitation can affect sleep, causing insomnia. Therefore, patients must know how to stop heart palpitations due to anxiety or seek management tips from their doctor.

See a certified anxiety doctor online to know if your heart palpitations are resulting from anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes

A person can treat and manage anxiety heart palpitations using not just therapy or medications but supplemental lifestyle and home remedies, including:

  • Calming exercises. Patients should perform meditation or yoga daily to help their nerves calm down, ensuring they take deep, long breaths.
  • Minimize stimulant use. Minimize the use of stimulants, such as caffeine or nicotine, especially at night. These substances have vasoconstrictive effects on the blood vessels leading to high blood pressure and increased heartbeat.
  • Body positions. The patient should try to lie in either supine (facing upwards) or a left-sided posture to help control heart palpitations from anxiety.
  • Healthy diet. To prevent heart palpitations in the long run, you can also eat foods rich in potassium (grains, leafy green vegetables, fish) and magnesium minerals (milk and yogurt, fruits, meat, and legumes).

Medical Treatment

Sometimes the patient’s heart palpitations due to anxiety may become so severe that self-help techniques will fail to reduce them. The doctors may therefore employ medicine to treat these conditions and will likely prescribe one of the following options:

  • Beta-blockers. These meds cure heart palpitations by slowing the heart rate [6*] , making it easier for the body to control heartbeat signals.
  • Anti-anxiety medications. For example, benzodiazepines [7*] can help treat anxiety disorders and insomnia.
  • Cardiac ablation. It is a surgical procedure that creates tiny scars, stops abnormal electrical signals, and restores normal heart rhythm. It is usually done in extreme cases.

In Conclusion

Anxiety and strong emotional response are among the most common causes of heart palpitations. In most cases, such symptoms do not become a reason for worry. However, if heart palpitations often occur or become severe, consider seeing a doctor. Mental health experts at MEDvidi are ready to evaluate your symptoms, make a diagnosis, and offer a personalized treatment plan to help manage your anxiety and eliminate its impact on your daily life.

Sources

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7 sources
  1. Heart palpitations
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  2. WHY IS MY HEART BEATING SO FAST?
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  3. Short-term Sleep Deprivation Affects Heart Function. (2016)
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  4. Calm your anxious heart. (2022)
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  5. Should I Be Worried about Heart Palpitations? (2019)
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  6. Staying Healthy
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  7. Benzodiazepine Drug Information. (2020)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Umar Javed

Dr. MBBS
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