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Change in Heartbeat (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Home treatment can help relieve some problems that cause changes in your heart rate. When you think you have a change in your heart rate or rhythm:

  • Sit down and take your pulseClick here to see an illustration. for 1 minute.
  • If you become lightheaded, sit or lie down to avoid injuries that might occur if you faint and fall.
  • Take a few deep breaths and try to relax. This may slow down a racing heart rate. Be careful not to breathe too fast, which can cause hyperventilation.
  • Cut back or eliminate caffeine (including coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate). Some nonprescription medicines (such as Excedrin) contain caffeine. Caffeine can increase your heart rate and cause irregular rhythms.
  • Cut back or eliminate alcohol and tobacco, which also contain substances that can increase your heart rate or cause irregular rhythms.
  • If your doctor has told you that you have panic attacks, use home treatment measures to calm yourself.

You may find it helpful to keep a record of the date and time that you noticed the change.

  • What were you doing when your heart rate or rhythm changed? Were you active or resting at the time?
  • Were you straining to urinate or have a bowel movement?
  • Were you in a stressful or fearful situation?
  • Were you walking, standing, sitting, or lying down?
  • How long did the change in heart rate or rhythm last?
  • How many times did you have palpitations or a sense of a fast heart rate or irregular rhythm?
  • Did you have any other symptoms?
  • List what you did that helped your heart rate or rhythm to return to normal, such as lying down, deep breathing, or coughing. Did your heart rate or rhythm return to normal on its own?
  • Try "tapping out" the heart rhythm with your fingers and write it down so you can discuss it with your doctor.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • You continue to have changes in your heart rate or rhythm.
  • Lightheadedness develops.
  • Other symptoms develop when your heart rate or rhythm changes.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.
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