How to Deal with Rapid Heartbeat

You’re not running a marathon, but just sitting around talking to a friend or snuggling under a warm quilt for an afternoon nap. All of a sudden, your heartbeat takes off at breakneck speed. You are experiencing tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat. It may last for only a few seconds, or it may last for minutes or even hours. If your tachycardia continues for an extended time, it could lead to conges­tive heart failure or heart attack.

Tachycardia may be a symptom of heart disease, but not always. Sometimes there may not be any underlying cause. You probably don’t need to be concerned if your heartbeat changes once in a while. If it happens, try these methods of restoring your natural rhythm.


  • Take it lying down. Whether you’re walking, sweeping the floor, or cutting your grass, stop what you’re doing. When you feel an attack of rapid heartbeat, sit or lie down, and relax until it’s over.
  • Hold it! Try holding your breath, but not for too long. This is sometimes enough to urge your heart back to its proper pace. Coughing or bearing down as if you’re having a bowel movement are other methods to try.
  • Put on the pressure. Pinch your nose closed and gently push against it with your breath until your ears pop. Or put your fingers over your closed eyes and press gently on your eyeballs.
  • Distract yourself. Pick a sensitive area on your arm, and pinch it hard enough to really hurt.
  • Cool it. Get a big bowl of ice water, hold your breath, and dunk your face. This technique is often enough of a shock to restore your normal heartbeat. A big bag of ice cubes or a towel dipped in ice water, held over your face for just a moment, may work as well. If you have angina or chest pain that gets worse in cold weather, avoid this method and try one of the others instead.
  • Learn massage. If your tachycardia occurs fre­quently, your doctor can teach you the proper way to massage your carotid artery. This is usual­ly an effective way to slow your rapid heartbeat, but it must be done correctly or you could hurt yourself.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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