Heart palpitations describe the heartbeat sensations that occur when your heart is racing or pounding. It may be that you just experience an unpleasant awareness of your own heartbeat, or you may feel your heartbeats skipping or even stopping momentarily. Palpitations can be felt in your throat, neck or chest.
A person’s normal heart rate is between sixty and eighty heartbeats per minute. However, when the body undergoes physical exertion, your heartbeats can go as high as 200 heartbeats per minute.
I used to forever be checking my pulse rate and became almost obsessed by it.
Sometimes, whilst experiencing these palpitations, your heart can sometimes ‘skip a beat’. The best way I can describe this is like a horse jumping over a fence – your heart seems to stop… and then BOOM! – one big heartbeat makes up for the one that just got skipped. It can be very frightening if you have never experienced them before and it almost feels like the more you think about it, the worse it seems to get.
So what causes them, what do you need to do to stop heart palpitations and are you alone in feeling these sensations?
The truth is that it happens to many people and is not a cause for alarm. By following the techniques in the Linden method program, I was able to learn how to stop my heart palpitations almost completely (on the very rare occasions I do get them, I now see how completely normal and common they are for everyone and simply ignore them and get on with my life!)
What causes heart palpitations?
There are a number of factors that can have an adverse affect on your heart palpitations. These could include:
- Lifestyle-related causes, including excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol or recreational drugs;
- As a side-effect to a panic or anxiety attack – a panic attack causes an increase of adrenaline in your body, which in turn increases your heart rate. This can bring heart palpitations to the fore;
- Medication-related – it may be that a medication you are currently taking may be a factor;
- Pregnancy – during pregnancy, or even during the menopause your hormones can go out of balance, causing these palpitations. If this is the case, then advice from your doctor is recommended;
- Underlying medical conditions – these could be blood pressure related, or due to anaemia, or an over-active thyroid. Again, if you think this may be the case then it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor to eliminate any of these conditions.
Finding out what causes heart palpitations is a key step to begin getting the right help.
How to stop heart palpitations naturally
There are a number of home remedies available to stop heart palpitations. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, tobacco or any drinks containing caffeine – fizzy drinks are also a big no-no as heart palpitations are sensitive to indigestion problems.
Here are some tips on how to stop heart palpitations in their tracks:
Do something, anything that will take your mind of things, something that will engross you totally – preferably a hobby you love, or go do some exercise. If left unchecked, your mind tends to latch onto negative thoughts, so it’s important to shake them off.
Just try to remember, you’re not in any danger from these palpitations. If anything, you are getting a mini aerobic workout.
A cold shower or simply the act of splashing cold water on your face can also work wonders. This is because it shocks your nervous system and regains its normal composure.
Breathe deeply and slowly, from your abdomen. Lie down and close your eyes whilst doing so if you can and picture a calming scene. If it’s hard for you to visualize, try counting backwards from 2o, and with each count notice a small relaxation.
This is a method I found particularly useful – take two or three deep coughs, as if you are clearing your throat of an obstruction – this will often shock your heart back into a normal rhythm.
Diet and Hydration
Heart palpitations can be caused by an imbalance of magnesium, calcium and potassium and in the body. So it’s a good idea to put together a weekly diet sheet that includes a list of foods rich in these elements. Foods such as bananas, apples, milk, wheat-rich bread, brown rice, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean meats should always be high on this list.
In addition, staying hydrated maintains the electrolyte balance within the body, which make the electrical impulses in the heart more effective.
Exercise to prevent heart palpitations
People are often wary of exercise when they have heart palpitations. But it’s important to remember that the heart is a muscle and, providing you have been given the all clear by your doctor, it will make the world of difference to you to get regular exercise. During exercise, endorphins are released, and you are in a far more relaxed state following exercise.
The most common cause of heart palpitations is low-level anxiety, and this anxiety is actually being fed by your own fear of heart palpitations, generating a vicious cycle.
The Linden Method has an excellent strategy for not only coping with your heart palpitations but by following their strategies, completely banishing them from your life, as they did for me.