Did you know that nearly half of all adult Americans suffer from some form of heart disease?
According to research done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018, 108 million Americans (about 45%) were diagnosed with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (linked to an excessively high heart rate) is serious business. It can lead to strokes, heart attacks, organ failure, and other fatal conditions.
But what is considered a high heart rate, what causes it, and can you lower yours?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is that you’ll need to do some research and work to get there.
The answer as you might already suspect is a little complicated.
For example, your heart rate while sitting would understandably vary from your heart rate during high-intensity exercise sessions.
Ideal heart rates also differ by age.
Younger people tend to have higher heart rates naturally, while older people have slower ones.
If your heart rate increases as you age, you may be experiencing high blood pressure symptoms.
Lower resting heart rates are usually considered indicators of better physical fitness and cardiovascular health. (Chart info provided by the American Heart Association)
If you have a higher than average heart rate, or you are looking to improve your overall heart health, there are several ways that you can actively lower your heart rate.
While they aren’t a replacement for medication, a healthy diet, and lifestyle, they can go a long way to help you maintain a healthy heart rate.
Generally, a lower resting heart rate is considered healthy, while a high resting heart rate (over 100 bpm) can be associated with various health concerns. Lower resting heart rates allow us to maintain healthier heartbeat patterns and respond better to external stimuli that might cause a spike in heart rate. For instance, many athletes have a resting heart rate of less than 60 bpm.
A high resting heart rate could be a sign of trouble and is generally associated with the following health problems:
If your heart rate spikes without reason, there are a few tricks to lower your heart rate momentarily until it goes back to normal.
The best way to lower your heart rate over time is through living an overall healthier lifestyle which includes:
Getting enough sleep - A lack of sleep can increase the production of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which can constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure
This first tip isn’t so much an action-based item as it is a consideration.
When attempting to lower your heart rate, remember to consider your age and current fitness level.
Don’t overexert yourself, and consult a medical professional when necessary.
Each person’s heart and body are different and react differently. Speak to your primary care physician to get the best results for your body.
One of the simplest ways to lower your resting heart rate is to practice deep breathing.
If you take 5 minutes to slow down your breathing and take more resounding, fuller breaths, you can profoundly affect your heart health.
Shallow breathing can constrict your blood vessels and create tension throughout the body.
On the other hand, deep breathing can dilate blood vessels and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which aids digestion and promotes rest.
Every time you catch yourself tensing up during work, take a moment, and take five deep breaths.
[READ: 20 Simple Ways to Destress]
Exercise, specifically cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, swimming, biking), is essential for lowering your heart rate.
Cardio gets your heart pumping oxygen faster and more fluidly.
While it may seem counterintuitive to raise your heart rate during exercise when trying to lower your overall heart rate, cardio is crucial for building a strong and healthy heart.
Regular exercise can also help burn fat, another excellent health benefit.
Work in 20 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, such as brisk walking, 3-4 times a week to promote healthy blood flow.
Did you have a busy day at work? Are you frequently bombarded with deadlines?
One of the major culprits of high blood pressure is a stressful work environment.
Your career is meaningful, but it may be causing stress on your health and long-term happiness.
If you happen to have a high-stress or high-intensity job, you’re not doomed to heart failure.
However, you will need to take all possible measures to balance your heart health and work performance.
If possible, decrease the amount of stress you have throughout the day by:
Drugs, alcohol, and caffeine are all potential dangers to a healthy heart.
Excessive amounts of caffeine can overstimulate your heart and increase your heart rate.
Caffeine is widely considered safe to use, but you should still consume it within moderation.
Alcohol has also been proven to impact heart health negatively.
According to research done by Johns Hopkins University, alcohol can raise blood pressure and is linked to muscle dysfunction in the heart when consumed excessively.
Various prescription medications can also lead to an increased risk of elevated blood pressure.
Please consult your physician immediately if you believe that you’re experiencing hypertension as a result of medications you’re taking.
Changing your diet can play a crucial role in lowering your heart rate and promoting better overall heart health.
A healthy diet also has the added benefit of helping maintain a healthy weight, boosting energy throughout the day, and helping you achieve better sleep.
Here are a few foods that can be detrimental to your heart and overall health:
You can still enjoy a healthy treat now and then, but if you find yourself eating from the nearest McDonald’s three times a week, you may be putting your heart health at risk.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a few healthy heart foods are:
Heart and brain healthy foods can make all of the difference in your health and well-being.
Avoid eating foods high in sodium as they can dehydrate your body and make it harder for your heart to pump blood properly.
Diets with even the best planning might have gaps. Best in Nature offers all-natural heart health supplements to help you stay at your best here.
If you’ve taken action on all of the tips so far and haven’t seen any results or want to be completely safe, you should check with your doctor to get your heart adequately examined.
Aside from listening to your heart through a stethoscope and performing simple tests with a blood pressure monitor, cardiologists can:
Perform an Electrocardiogram (ECG)
These tests can be useful to understand if any severe underlying conditions are present.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reported in 2014 that a human heart pumps around 2,000 gallons of blood a day.
That’s a lot of blood!
If you’re dehydrated or not taking in enough water daily, your heart will have to work harder to pump all of that blood.
With proper hydration, you can make your heart’s job just a bit easier.
Aim to drink 1 gallon or 16 cups of water a day for optimal hydration purposes.
If there were one miracle cure for most major preventable diseases that modern people face, it would be sleep.
Your heart recovers during sleep, particularly in the phase known as non-rapid eye movement or NREM for short.
NREM gives your heart a chance to slow down and rest. Your blood pressure lowers, and your breathing becomes consistent to allow for a full recovery.
By skimping on your daily sleep time, you are putting more stress on your heart without allowing it to recover properly.
Sleep deprivation can lead to:
Get your 8 hours every day for optimal heart rest and recovery.
Getting your daily dose of sunshine doesn’t just benefit you psychologically.
Going outside daily can provide several health benefits, including better heart health.
Studies have shown that sunlight can provide Vitamin D and release naturally occurring chemicals that lower blood pressure.
While you’re outside, it’s also a great time to do some deep breathing or do some cardio.
There are many ways to lower your heart rate and promote a healthier heart.
Many of these tips have to do with adopting a healthier lifestyle overall.
Pick one of these tricks to work on today and put it into your schedule, so you don't forget.
Remember, your overall health is heavily reliant on your heart health so take good care of it, and it will take good care of you!
Best in Nature also provides a line of all-natural heart health supplements to consider as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Disclaimer: The Best in Nature blog is written for informational purposes and not to be taken as medical advice. If you are worried about your immediate health, please seek the help of a medical professional.