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How to Slow Your Heart Rate Down

Three Methods:Slow a Very High Heart RatePermanently Improve Your Heart RateSlow a Chronically High Heart Rate

People with heart rates of over 100 beats per minute (bpm) while relaxing, have a 78 percent greater risk of developing heart disease. If your heart beats too quickly when resting, it could signal that you're in poor physical shape or that you're significantly stressed out. Additionally, if you experience a very high heart rate, it is imperative that you take steps to slow it down!

Extreme caution: this could be tachycardia, which can be involved in a kind of heart attack needing immediate, emergency medical attention.

Follow the methods for temporarily lowering a chronically "high" or (hopefully) infrequently "very-high" heart rate.

Then improve it permanently, by physical conditioning.

Method 1
Slow a Very High Heart Rate

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    Practice deep breathing. Although it may seem difficult, lowering your breathing speed will help to lower your heart rate. Take a breath for 5-8 seconds, hold it for 3-5 seconds, and then exhale slowly for a count of 5-8 seconds. Focus on exhaling completely to reduce your heart rate.[1]
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    Perform the valsalva maneuver. This triggers the vagal nerve which is responsible for controlling your heart rate. To do the valsalva maneuver, after taking a deep breath, strain the muscles in your abdomen the same way you would to give a bowel movement. Hold the pressure for five seconds, and then let go. You may have to do this multiple times to get the desired effect.
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    Do the carotid (ka-rah-ted) maneuver. The carotid artery runs down your throat next to the vagal nerve. Give the artery a gentle massage with your fingertips to help stimulate the neighboring nerve into slowing your heart rate down.
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    Splash yourself with cold water. Pour ice water onto your face to stimulate the dive reflex, responsible for slowing down your metabolism. Keep adding ice water to your face until you notice a drop in your heart rate.[2]
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    Take medication. If you experience an incredibly high heart rate frequently over time, you can get a prescription for heart rate lowering medications from your doctor. Set up a meeting with your MD to decide whether medication is the right path for you.[3]

Method 2
Permanently Improve Your Heart Rate

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    Check with your doctor to what extent it's okay to exercise vigorously. Intense exercise is not the first step, but work up to more vigorous exercise. Short bursts of energetic effort, such as running short dashes, inter-spaced with relaxing to not lose your breath, called interval training, improves your heart's efficiency by about 10 percent more than the usual aerobic exercise done at a steady pace.
    • Build up until you're performing at your maximum, safe heart rate for the last interval, then you can cool down. Change up your routine periodically -- pace, machine, incline plane, stairs, weights, dance, water, route, hills -- to make your heart pump blood more effectively with fewer beats.
    • For runners: If you run on a treadmill, use the interval setting. If you run outdoors or on an indoor track, then warm up for 5 minutes. Then run fast for 1 minute and jog slowly for 1 minute. Repeat the interval 6 or 8 times before cooling down for 5 minutes.
    • For swimmers: Swim ten 50-yard freestyles, resting for 15 seconds between each pair of swims. As you swim, swim aerobically, raising your heart rate but not raising it too much, not swimming too hard so that you become really out of breath.[4]
    • On the bike: Warm up for 90 seconds. Then, pedal at a moderate energy burst for 30 seconds. Slow back down to a cardio rate for 90 seconds before performing another energy burst for 30 seconds. Each 30-second energy burst should be more intense than the last.[5]
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    Get plenty of good sleep. Wear earplugs, if you need to reduce the noise levels in your room. Sleep disturbances from noise can increase your heart rate as much as 13 bpm.
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    Empty your bladder regularly. People who hold their urine until their bladder is really full will increase their heart rates by as much as 9 bpm. A really full bladder increases sympathetic nervous system activity, which constricts blood vessels and forces your heart to beat faster.
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    Take a fish oil capsule. Even better, take calamari oil [squid] which is much richer in DHA, a most important type of omega-3. Dr Oz recommends taking "daily fish oil or some other source of omega-3 with at least 600mg of DHA" A single daily fish oil capsule may reduce your heart rate by as much as 6 bpm within as little as 2 weeks. Researchers think that fish oil helps the heart to respond better to your vagus nerve, which regulates your heart rate.[6]
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    Change your diet. Eat heart-healthy foods which help your body to regulate its heart rate. Try eating more salmon, sardines or mackerel, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and foods high in potassium like bananas and avocados.[7]

Method 3
Slow a Chronically High Heart Rate

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    Lie down and relax. Lie down on a comfortable surface such as your bed or your couch. If there is no comfortable surface to lie upon, then try sitting in a relaxed position.
    • Make sure that the room is quiet and comfortable. If your view from your window is chaotic, then close your curtains or your blinds.
    • Relax your muscles. Stay in this position and allow your heart rate to slow at its own pace.
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    Concentrate on pleasing mental imagery. Calm your mind and body by using guided visualization and imagining places that make you happy. For instance, you can think about a beautiful mural, a scene from nature, or a daydream that you would find relaxing.
    • Find a print or a photo of something that makes you feel relaxed. You can sit on your bed in a meditative posture and gaze at the picture to try to calm your mind and body.
    • Write in a journal about a place you love to visit or a place in which you feel very at peace. Then, close your journal and picture the place in your mind, allowing the calm to wash over you.
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    Learn to meditate. Place your internal focus on the beating of your heart. Try to use the power of your concentration to slow down your heart rate.
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    Breathe slowly. Try some of these techniques to use breathing to calm your heart rate:
    • Abdominal breathing: While you're sitting down, place your hand over your stomach just below your ribcage. Inhale through your nose, allowing your belly to move your hand out while your chest stays still. Then, exhale through pursed lips as though you were whistling, using your hand to push the air out of your belly. Repeat as often as needed.[8]
    • Alternate nostril breathing: Start inhaling through your left nostril, pushing your right nostril closed with your thumb, over a count of 4. Close both nostrils and hold your breath for 16 counts. Exhale out of the right nostril for 8 counts, and then inhale through the right nostril for 4 counts. Hold your breath for another 16 seconds, and exhale through your left nostril for 8 counts. Yoga practitioners believe this brings both sides of your brain into balance and calms your mind and body.[9]
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    Get a massage. Getting a regular massage or reflexology treatment may lower your heart rate by as much as 8 bpm. Pay to have a professional massage, or have a loved one perform a massage on you.


  • Talk to your doctor about heart rate variability biofeedback.[10] During a biofeedback session, you're hooked up to electrical sensors that allow you to observe your heart rate. Then, you can work on slowing your heart rate down with your mind to increase your lung capacity, lower your blood pressure and decrease stress.
  • Make sure you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.


  • Other factors that may increase the risk of tachycardia include:
    • Older age. Aging-related wear on the heart may lead to developing tachycardia.
    • Family. If you have a family history of heart rhythm disorders, you may have greater risks of tachycardia.
  • Risk of tachycardia. Any condition straining or damaging the heart can increase your risk. Medical treatment may decrease the risk of tachycardia from the following factors:[11]
    • Heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Smoking
    • Heavy alcohol use
    • Heavy caffeine use
    • Use of recreational drugs
    • Psychological stress or anxiety
  • If your resting heart rate is rapid, you may not notice it unless you're experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath, fainting or a sensation of fluttering or "flopping" or pain in your chest, you may be experiencing tachycardia.

    Extreme caution: If the experience lasts more than a few minutes, you need to call 9-1-1 or head to the emergency room.

    Otherwise, if it is of a shorter duration, schedule a doctor's appointment as soon as possible.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure