Heart rate goes up and down with breathing

  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Sep 03, 2009 11:08 PM GMT
    I notice when I breathe in my heart rate goes up, when I breathe out it slows down.

    Anyone else experience this?
  • JHunter

    Posts: 41

    Sep 04, 2009 12:58 AM GMT
    Hey Anto this is actually a heart rhythm known as sinus arrhythmia and is in most cases nothing to be concerned about. In most people its a natural process where your heart rate varies with your breathing cycle. In fact its very common in the young and in athletes. Its been found that respiratory sinus arrhythmia can become more evident as you become more physically conditioned or with relaxed breathing such as in meditation. Once the person is exercising and your heart rate goes up you probably wont notice the change in heart rate anymore. Its believed that by allowing your heart rate to vary slightly with breathing patterns your body can condition itself to save energy by suppressing heart beats during expiration which would not be needed.

    In any case if you become symptomatic at all (ie. faint, short of breath, lightheaded) you should consult a doctor immediately. It never hurts to get a professional opinion and there are many non-invasive ways to make sure the arrhythmia is not affecting your body in a negative way such as EKGs and Echocardiograms.

    Hope this helps.
  • barriehomeboy

    Posts: 2475

    Sep 04, 2009 1:14 AM GMT
    Wow. Nobody in my ICU looks like you! What about when I sleep semiprone and the left side of my chest is on the mattress, and my left ventricle starts throwing pvc's?
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    Sep 04, 2009 1:28 AM GMT
    Anto saidI notice when I breathe in my heart rate goes up, when I breathe out it slows down.

    Anyone else experience this?


    Exactly how many heart beats are you having during a breath?

    My guess would be you are suffering from an experimental error. GEt an EKG done and have them tell you whether the time period between each peak is truly varying. Generally, this time interval is amazingly constant vis-a-vis.
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Sep 04, 2009 1:58 AM GMT
    You know I thought it might be for some biological reasons like taking advantage while breathing in and slowing down when not. It feels like it slows down by twice as much when breathing out. So how do you take a pulse in that case? Average it out? Or while holding breath?
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Sep 04, 2009 2:00 AM GMT
    If you lie down still on your back with your shirt off relaxed can you see your lower stomach area pulse up and down with each heart beat?
  • JHunter

    Posts: 41

    Sep 04, 2009 2:22 AM GMT
    Anto if you truly have a respiratory induced sinus arrhythmia then when you hold your breath and take your pulse it should become competely regular. As for seeing the pulsation when lying on your back, when I was in school I would always worry that I had an abdominal aneurysm since I could see that pulsation. This is simply not the case, if you are skinny it is compeletely normal to be able to see the pulsation of your abdominal aorta.

    Oh and you would not believe how common sinus arryhthmia is. A lot of us younger nurses hook each other up to the monitor all the time when we have a spare minute and most of us are in a slight sinus arryhthmia, like I said generally it is of no concern but there are always times when it could mean something more so if you are concerned go get checked out.

    As for laying on your left side and throwing PVCs generally speaking lying on this side pulls your heart closer to your chest wall so you can feel the heart beat more readily. You might have been throwing PVCs or PACs anyway and just not have felt them as much until you were in this position, that I cant say for sure. For some reason I have heard a lot of people complain about feeling palpations when lying on their left side.
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    Sep 04, 2009 2:37 AM GMT
    See a cardiologist.
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    Sep 04, 2009 2:49 AM GMT
    can I have your CD collection?
  • reset77

    Posts: 2

    Sep 04, 2009 2:53 AM GMT
    It’s completely normal, and it’s due to the Franck-Starling mechanism that basically says that the heart is going to pup all the blood that reaches it. When you inhale and your diaphragm descends you create a negative pressure in the thoracic cavity which basically sucks blood from the vena cava to your heath right auricle.
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    Sep 04, 2009 3:27 AM GMT
    What JHunter has written is correct. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia is completely normal. Unless you often feel lightheaded, short of breath, etc, this is noting to worry about. It may get less noticeable as you get older.

    It's thought that decreasing the heart rate as the lungs expel air which is low in oxygen and pumping at a faster rate as the lungs are filling with oxygen-rich air (so more oxygen is picked up faster) increases the efficiency of the cardiopulmonary system. Whether that's actually the case isn't known, but it makes sense to me.

    Being able to see aortic pulsations in your abdomen is also normal, especially in slimmer individuals (as you seem to be). I've seen them on myself and many of may classmates on whom I've practiced auscultation/percussion etc. so don't worry too much about that either.

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    Sep 04, 2009 4:22 AM GMT
    In Biathlon you hold your breath before each shot, and it lowers the heart rate. It's an old and well-understood practice.
  • swogdog

    Posts: 143

    Sep 04, 2009 5:43 AM GMT
    As someone above posted this is a natural sinus arrhythmia - the tendency of the heart to slow on exhale and speed up on the inhale.

    About four months ago my doctor and I did a little experiment with my heart rate, as he noticed I had both a slow heart rate and a pronounced slowing upon holding my breath. My resting rate is usually 50-55 bpm and when I hold my breath it drops to about 45 within seconds.
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    Sep 04, 2009 8:02 PM GMT
    This happens to me as well.