In adults, a typical resting heart rate is 60–100 beats per minute, but structural or electrical disorders of the heart can cause it to rise or fall. Medications, a lack of sleep, and stress may also affect heart rate.
A person’s heart rate
However, some people have an irregular heart rhythm that causes their heart rate to jump between high and low. This condition is called arrhythmia, or dysrhythmia. It can be alarming, but it does not always result in severe health complications.
Nonetheless, if a person suspects anomalies in the rhythm of their heart rate, they should contact a doctor for a diagnosis.
This article will examine several possible causes of a heart rate that is jumping up and down, beginning with some structural and electrical disorders of the heart.
It will also detail possible behavioral and environmental causes, such as stress and dehydration, and explain when a person should contact a doctor.
Tachycardia means that an adult’s heart rate is
There are several types of tachycardia. The sections below will look at some of these in more detail.
In sinus tachycardia, the
Sinus tachycardia occurs when the heart rate increases due to expected reasons, such as during exercise, if a person is feeling anxious, or during periods of dehydration.
Inappropriate sinus tachycardia, which is rare, occurs when the heart rate increases for no apparent reason. It could be the result of a nerve-signaling problem in the heart.
This prevents the heartbeat from originating in the sinoatrial node, which creates sinus rhythm. Instead, it causes it to originate in another part of the top chamber of the heart.
The word supraventricular means that the arrhythmia originates from the top chamber of the heart. The word tachycardia means that it results in a heartbeat that is higher than 100 bpm.
Supraventricular tachycardia may cause symptoms
However, there may be no symptoms at all.
It is rare that supraventricular tachycardia results in sudden death, but this can happen if the heart rate gets too fast.
To try the most well-known type of Valsalva maneuver, a person should bear down, as if they were passing a bowel movement, for 10–15 seconds.
However, if this method does not work, they can try the following other types:
- immersing themselves or just their face in cold water
- blowing on their thumb (in children) or into an empty syringe
Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) results from erratic signals in the upper chambers of the heart, causing an irregular heartbeat. It is a common arrhythmia.
A person with A-fib
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath during exercise
- exercise intolerance
- difficulty breathing when resting
- chest pain
According to some studies, females with A-fib are
Treatment for A-fib
- medications to manage heart rate or heart rhythm,
- blood-thinning medications to reduce the risk of stroke, such as:
- invasive therapy, such as:
Conduction disorders, specifically heart block, can cause a disruption to the electrical signals that enable the heart to pump blood to the body and the lungs.
This disruption affects the rhythm and rate of the heartbeat, and, as a result, the heart may not pump the amount of blood necessary for the body to function.
According to the
- a slow heart rate
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- abdominal pain
Treatment will vary depending on the type of heart block a person has. For milder forms of heart block, a person may only need monitoring by a cardiologist. People with higher degrees of heart block will need a pacemaker.
If a person does not consume enough water, their body may become dehydrated.
Dehydration can affect a person’s mental and physical function, including their heart rate.
According to a
- decreased exercise performance
- decreased thinking abilities
- mood changes
In the short term, according to the same review, dehydration may cause an increase in heart rate for the following reasons:
- It can affect the function of the endothelium, which is the lining within the heart and blood vessels.
- It can affect the sympathetic nervous system, causing changes in breathing and heart rate.
- It can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. A person may notice this if they feel lightheaded when standing up.
If a person is dehydrated over a long period of time, their risk of developing problems such as heart disease increases.
As well as drinking water, a person can boost their water intake by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If symptoms of dehydration occur, oral rehydration solutions can provide electrolytes quickly, enabling fast absorption. Sachets of oral rehydrate are available at most chemists.
If these methods do not provide relief and the symptoms become severe, a hospital can provide intravenous fluids.
Certain drugs can affect the heart rate and cause the rhythm to jump between high and low beat rates.
Sleep deprivation, sleep disorders, and lack of good quality sleep
Getting enough rest is important for the body to function properly. Some symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- difficulty concentrating
Sleep deprivation may also contribute to A-fib, but doctors need more research to confirm this.
Adopting the following habits may contribute to better sleep:
- reducing caffeine intake
- developing a set bedtime routine
- getting enough physical activity during the day
Interactions between the heart and brain cause the body to
Emotional or physical stress
- a faster heart rate
- a rise in blood pressure
- a release of stress hormones
As a result, the heart has to work harder. In some people, this can increase the risk of arrhythmia, a heart attack, and other heart-related health issues.
Females appear to be more susceptible than males. Taking measures to manage stress can help reduce the risk of heart-related complications.
Stress can cause a range of physical and mental symptoms, including:
Managing stress can be important in reducing the risk of developing arrhythmia. Stress relief and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, can be effective forms of treatment for chronic stress.
If the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat becomes irregular or is causing distressing symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.
Even if there does not appear to be any danger, a doctor can provide assistance in reducing the risk of complications.
If a person is experiencing the
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- a feeling of impending doom
- pain in the following places:
- one or both arms
Here are some questions people often ask about changes in heart rate.
What causes a sudden spike in heart rate when resting?
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) can cause a person’s heart rate to spike suddenly, then return abruptly to the usual rate. There are many
What is a fluctuating heart rate?
When a person has a fluctuating heart rate, they may feel as if their heart rate is jumping up and down. Instead of following a regular pattern, the heart rhythm changes within a short time. This is called arrhythmia. A
Is arrhythmia serious?
Many people live with arrhythmia, and by 2030, experts foresee that atrial fibrillation — the main cause of arrhythmia — will affect over
Different conditions and factors can cause the heart rate to jump up or down. The medical term for this cardiac anomaly is arrhythmia.
Biological factors can affect the structural and electrical functions of the heart, but other risk factors include dehydration, certain medications, lack of sleep, and stress.
Some people experience heart rate fluctuations for years, and for other people, the symptoms never go away.
Arrhythmia does not always cause serious health problems, but seeking medical advice is important in reducing the risk of developing complications.