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What should I do if my heart rate is high while resting?

Having an elevated heart rate while at rest can be concerning. A normal resting heart rate is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute, so a heart rate consistently over 100 bpm may indicate an underlying issue.

Causes of High Resting Heart Rate

There are several potential causes of an elevated resting heart rate:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Fever or illness
  • Dehydration
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Heart conditions like arrhythmia or heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Anemia
  • Medications like decongestants, antidepressants, corticosteroids
  • Caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine use
  • Electrolyte imbalances

In many cases, the cause is benign and temporary, like anxiety, fever, or dehydration. But an underlying heart condition or imbalance may also lead to chronically elevated heart rate.

When to See a Doctor

You should consult your doctor if you experience:

  • Resting heart rate consistently over 100 bpm
  • Persistent chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations or fluttering sensations
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Fatigue, weakness, or exercise intolerance
  • Swelling in the legs or abdomen
  • Risk factors like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure

It’s especially important to seek medical care if you have any other signs of arrhythmia or heart conditions along with an elevated heart rate. Diagnostic tests like EKGs, bloodwork, stress tests, or heart rate monitoring can help identify any underlying problems.

Lifestyle Changes to Lower Heart Rate

If your heart rate is mildly elevated with no other symptoms, try these lifestyle measures first:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety. Try relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or massage.
  • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid excess alcohol and caffeine.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to strengthen your cardiovascular system.
  • Lose excess weight. Maintain a healthy BMI through diet and exercise.
  • Improve sleep habits. Aim for 7-9 hours per night of quality sleep.
  • Limit medications. Review all medications with your doctor and cut back stimulants.

Implementing healthy lifestyle habits can often bring your heart rate back to normal range. But be sure to follow up with your doctor if lifestyle changes don’t help.

Medical Treatments

If an underlying heart condition or imbalance is causing your elevated heart rate, your doctor may prescribe medications like:

  • Beta blockers to slow your heart rate
  • Calcium channel blockers to relax blood vessels
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Thyroid medications for overactive thyroid
  • Water pills to reduce fluid overload
  • Iron supplements for anemia
  • Medications to regulate heart rhythm

Procedures like cardioversion or catheter ablation may also be recommended to restore normal heart rhythm for certain arrhythmias. Pacemakers can help control heart rate as well.

When to Call 911

In some cases, a very rapid heart rate over 150 bpm can signal a medical emergency. Seek emergency care if you experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Passing out or nearly passing out
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Confusion or impairment in thinking clearly

Extremely high heart rates can lead to not enough blood reaching vital organs and may require emergency treatments to prevent complications. Call 911 or go to the ER right away if you have any severe symptoms along with a very rapid pulse.

Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Tracking your resting heart rate over time can help identify patterns and guide treatment. Here are some tips for monitoring:

  • Check your pulse first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.
  • Use your fingertips to palpate your pulse point on your wrist or neck.
  • Set a timer for 60 seconds and count the beats you feel.
  • Repeat a few times a week and record the numbers.
  • Report spike to over 100 bpm or unusual changes to your doctor.
  • Consider wearing a fitness tracker to monitor trends.


Having a high heart rate at rest can sometimes be normal, but it may signal an underlying problem. See your doctor to identify any concerning causes, especially if you have other worrisome symptoms. Implementing healthy lifestyle habits can often help lower your heart rate. But medications, procedures, or implantable devices may be needed to control heart rate for some conditions. Monitor your heart rate routinely and follow up with your doctor if it remains elevated or you have any other signs of heart issues.