Is my heart beating too fast?

We all know the feeling of a pounding heart after exercising or when we're very scared or excited. But, what if it happens while you’re eating a meal or taking a nap? A racing heart can be caused by a wide range of conditions, some benign, some serious.

Based on your age and sex, there are generally accepted ranges for "normal" resting heart rate. Use the tapping tool on this page and the range visualizer to get an idea of where you fall on the spectrum of "normal".

If you feel your symptoms are serious or are having a medical emergency, call a doctor immediately.

What are heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations is the term doctors use to describe a strong and fast heart beat, giving pounding sensations in your chest. Unusual or erratic heart rhythms are also called arrhythmias.

What is tachycardia

Tachycardia is a rapid heart rate. It isn’t necessarily serious, and it can be treated, if necessary, depending on what is causing it.

Things that may cause your heart to beat faster

  • Alcohol use or withdrawal
  • Caffeine
  • Anxiety attack
  • Panic attack
  • Medication side effects
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Electrolyte imbalance — such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Reduced amount of red blood cells (anemia), often caused by bleeding
  • Smoking
  • Some illegal drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine

Lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of arrhythmias that can cause tachycardia.

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink in moderation
  • Don't use illegal drugs or stimulants, such as cocaine
  • Use medications with caution
  • Limit caffeine
  • Manage stress
  • Go to medical checkups

What is resting heart rate?

It is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you have not been engaged in any activity for some time. It's the rate of you're heart when reading, sitting on the couch watching television, or eating a meal.

Resting heart rate contrasts with your heart rate during activity or exercise. It's important to not confuse the two measurements.

How can I measure my heart rate? Is there a way to check my pulse online?

Normally you'd have to count your heart beats for an entire minute, or for 30 seconds and multiply by 2, or 15 seconds and mupltiply by 4, etc. The heart rate counter on this page will do the calculations for you and give you your average heartbeat in just a few seconds.

How can I measure my resting heart rate?

Measure your heart rate after you've been inactive for a significant amount of time. 15-30 minutes should be sufficient.

How can I find my pulse?

Many locations around the body where blood flow is palpable can serve as locations to check your pulse. Most commonly you can easily feel your pulse with your finger on the thumb side of your wrist. You can also put 2 fingers on the side of your neck, next to your windpipe.

What are the normal ranges for resting heart rate?

Not everyone's pulse is the same. Heart rate varies from person to person. Tracking your own heart rate can give you valuable information about your heart health, and even more importantly, changes in your heart health.

What is deemed a healthy or unhealthy resting heart rate includes several factors, most notably, if you are male or female, and your age. The visualizer on this page will let you select your sex and age range to show you the spectrum of heart rate ranges for you.

Here is a more complete of factors that can affect your heart rate:

  • Age as you age your pulse and heart rate can change, including the regularity of your pulse can change.
  • Sex generally men have a higher heart rate than women.
  • Family history Some medical conditions are genetically inherited
  • Activity level your heart rate increases with activity, so it will go up if for example you've just walked up stairs.
  • Fitness level generally the fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate.
  • Ambient temperature hot weather and temperature requires your heart to pump faster.
  • Medicines medicines can affect your resting heart rate. Beta blockers for example may decrease your resting heart rate, and some thyroid medicines may increase it.
  • Substances alcohol, coffee & tea (caffeine), and smoking can all affect your resting heart rate.
  • Body position for example, whether you are sitting up or lying down.
  • Emotional state your pulse may quicken when you feel stressed or very excited.
  • Time of day your heart rate tends to be lower at night.

Is there a normal resting heart rate?

The "normal" resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM).

Generally speaking, the lower your resting heart rate, the more efficiently your heart is working and is an indicator of your fitness.

A long distance runner, for example, might have a resting heart rate around 40 beats per minute.

Does my heart rate say something about my blood pressure?

A "normal" resting heart rate is not an indication of "normal" blood pressure. Your blood pressure needs to be measured separately and directly.

Get immediate professional medical attention if:

  • you are having trouble breathing
  • your heart is beating very fast (racing) with an irregular rhythm
  • there is pain in your chest

Medical Disclaimer

This site is intended to help the average person with a casual interest in their heart rate. It is not intended as a medical diagnosis tool. It is not a professional peer-reviewed medical product. It is not intended to replace medical doctors or consultations with certified professionals. If you are having medical concerns, a medical crisis, feel sick, are having any other medical issues, please consult a licensed professional.