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Change in Heartbeat (cont.)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Prevention

You often can reduce or prevent changes in your heart rate or rhythm.

  • Prevent fatigue by getting plenty of sleep and rest. If you become overtired, your changes in heart rate or rhythm may be more severe or occur more often.
  • Cut back or eliminate caffeine, including coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. Some nonprescription medicines, such as Excedrin, contain caffeine. Caffeine increases your heart rate and can cause irregular rhythms.
  • Cut back or eliminate alcohol and tobacco, which also contain substances that increase heart rate and can cause irregular rhythms.
  • Stop using medicines that increase heart rate, such as cough and cold remedies, nose drops, or allergy relief medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, epinephrine, or ephedrine.
  • If stress affects your heart rhythm or rate, try relaxation exercises and deep breathing techniques. A healthy exercise program can help reduce stress. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.

Knowing CPR could be useful for anyone. Many parents learn CPR so they know what to do if their children need it. People who have family members with a heart problem also should learn CPR. For more information on CPR, see the topic Dealing With Emergencies.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a history of problems with your heart rate or rhythm? If so:
    • Did you see a doctor?
    • What was the diagnosis?
    • What tests were done?
    • How was it treated?
  • When did you first notice the change in your heart rate or irregular rhythm? What were you doing when it started? Were you walking, standing, sitting, or lying down?
  • Is the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm related to activity, or does it happen when you are resting?
  • How often does the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm occur? How long does it last?
  • Is the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm related to eating?
  • What does the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm feel like?
  • Did you have other symptoms with the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm? What were the other symptoms?
  • What have you tried at home to relieve the change in heart rate or irregular rhythm?
  • Do you have any health risks?

If you have kept a record of your heart rate or rhythm changes, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. See the Home Treatment section for information on keeping a record.

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