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Racing Heart: 9 Top Causes and What to Do

The racing heart, scientifically known as tachycardia, is generally not a symptom of a serious problem, being often associated with simple situations such as being stressed, feeling anxious, having been doing intense physical activity or drinking too much coffee, for example.

However, having a racing heart can also be a sign of heart problems such as arrhythmia, thyroid disease such as hyperthyroidism, or lung disease such as pulmonary embolism.

Therefore, if the feeling of a racing heart often appears, takes a long time to pass, or appears associated with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, it is important to consult a cardiologist to identify the cause and, if necessary, initiate treatment most appropriate.

Racing Heart: 9 Top Causes and What to Do

The main causes of a racing heart are:

1. Intense physical activities

During or after any activity that requires physical effort, such as running, volleyball, basketball or football, for example, it is normal for the heart to accelerate as it needs to pump blood more quickly to ensure that the supply of nutrients and oxygen necessary for the functioning of the brain and muscles.

In these cases, it is normal for the heartbeat to reach 220 beats less the person's age, in the case of men, or 226 beats less the person's age, in the case of women. 

What to do: you should check the heartbeat during physical activity which can be done manually or with monitors or watches that measure heart rate. If the value is above that indicated or if other symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, malaise, chest pain arise, seek medical help immediately or the nearest emergency room. It is also essential, before starting any sport, to have an evaluation with a cardiologist.

2. Excessive stress

A racing heart is one of the main symptoms of stress, which is a normal reaction of the body to situations in which the body feels threatened. In addition to the increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle contraction, and increased blood pressure may occur.

However, when stress is chronic, there may be an increase in the hormone cortisol and other symptoms such as hair loss, irritation, dizziness, acne, headache, body pain or insomnia, for example.

What to do: It is important to identify the cause of stress, for example, work, studies or family problems, in addition to seeking pleasure activities such as meeting friends, exercising and developing a hobby, such as photography or sewing, for example . Follow up with a psychologist helps to seek self-knowledge and develop emotional balance, relieving stress. 

3. Anxiety

Anxiety is a reaction that can occur in everyday situations such as speaking in public, participating in a job interview or taking a test at school, for example, and can generate symptoms of racing heart, shortness of breath, tremor or fear. However, when anxiety persists or is excessive, generalized anxiety syndrome or panic disorder may arise.

What to do: The best way to control anxiety and avoid feeling your heart race is to follow up with a psychologist or psychiatrist to identify the causes of anxiety and, if necessary, start treatment with anxiolytics, for example. Activities such as relaxation, meditation, or light physical activities that don't make your heart rate too fast, such as walking or yoga, for example, can help fight and control anxiety. In addition, healthy eating is advised.  

Racing Heart: 9 Top Causes and What to Do

4. Heart problems

Many heart problems can be associated with abnormal beats, so a racing heart can be a sign that something may be happening to the heart.

A common problem is cardiac arrhythmia in which the heart beats too fast or too slow and can be associated with changes in the heart muscle, problems with the signaling between the brain and the heart that controls the heartbeat, or hormonal changes such as thyroid disorders. .

What to do: in case of symptoms such as a racing heart, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, seek immediate medical attention or the nearest emergency room. Cardiac problems should always be monitored by a cardiologist so that the most appropriate treatment can be done. In some cases, it may be necessary to use a pacemaker. 

5. Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid is a gland responsible for the production of thyroid hormones and when the production of these hormones increases, hyperthyroidism can occur. One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is a racing heart, as well as increased blood pressure, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia and weight loss, for example.

What to do: an endocrinologist should be consulted to initiate the most appropriate treatment. Usually for the symptom of a racing heart caused by hyperthyroidism, the treatment is made with beta-blockers, such as propranolol or metoprolol, for example. In addition, a balanced diet guided by a nutritionist can help provide nutrients to improve thyroid function. 

6. Lung problems

Heart rate often increases in people with respiratory problems because the oxygen level decreases and so the heart needs to beat more often to ensure adequate tissue oxygenation. One lung problem that can cause a racing heart is pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a clot obstructs a blood vessel in the lungs.

Other common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are hoarseness, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness or excessive sweating, for example. Some conditions increase the risk of developing pulmonary embolism such as heart disease, cancer, surgery, blood clotting problems or CoviD.

What to do: Pulmonary embolism is always life-threatening, so the nearest emergency room should be sought immediately if symptoms occur.

Racing Heart: 9 Top Causes and What to Do

7. Use of thermogenic supplements

Thermogenic supplements are normally used by those who want to lose weight or increase their willingness to practice physical activities and act by increasing body temperature and speeding up metabolism. However, these supplements can act on the heart, speeding up the heartbeat, in addition to causing anxiety, irritation or insomnia, for example.

What to do: The ideal is not to use thermogenic supplements without guidance from a nutritionist. To increase caloric expenditure and fat burning during physical activity, you can calculate the ideal heart rate to burn fat. Also, it is important to consult a cardiologist before starting any physical activity to assess heart health. 

8. Use of medications

Some medications to treat colds and flu, rhinitis, allergies, bronchitis or asthma, for example, may contain substances such as pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline, phenylephrine or salbutamol that generate side effects, including a racing heart.

What to do: in case of accelerated heart rate with the use of colds, discontinue use immediately and if symptoms do not improve, seek medical help immediately. These substances that accelerate the heartbeat should only be used with medical recommendation, after clinical evaluation.

9. Pregnancy

A racing heart is a common symptom in pregnancy and is considered normal. This change is mainly due to physiological changes to maintain the proper functioning of the maternal body, in addition to providing oxygen and nutrients for the baby.

What to do: Usually no treatment is needed, however, you should have prenatal care with the obstetrician gynecologist to ensure the health of the mother and baby. 

In addition, a balanced diet during pregnancy, light physical activity such as walking or water aerobics, and avoiding coffee consumption help to maintain health and have a smooth pregnancy. In cases where the woman already has heart problems, it is important to follow up with a cardiologist before becoming pregnant. 

(Reference - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17084-heart-palpitations, Medical News Today)

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