Is your resting pulse fast and you’re worried that this will eventually cause harm to your heart?
And can this damage the heart if you’re otherwise healthy?
Can a fast resting pulse, in and of itself, lead to heart damage?
Let’s assume that the patient has other good health practices, such as they never smoke, do not drink alcohol, get plenty of exercise, have a plant based diet, and keep their body at what’s considered an ideal weight. So what’s the answer?
“Yes, fast resting pulse can lead to heart damage, but it would have to be quite fast (>110-120) and for a relatively long period of time (weeks to months) to be chronic, occurring all the time and continuous,” explains Dr. Sameer Sayeed, a cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors of Somers, NY.
“The fast heart rate leads to weakening of the heart muscle and depressed ejection fraction due to overworking the heart muscle, similar to any other muscle in the body.”
Ejection fraction is the amount of blood that’s pumped out with each heartbeat.
Dr. Sayeed continues: “It is not that common for this to occur from stress but more commonly due to a thyroid disorder, atrial fibrillation or something else that would cause persistent rapid heart rate.”
If you’re under a lot of tension, this doesn’t mean you don’t have a medical condition.
“Certainly removing one from stress might help, but generally one would also have to rule out any underlying condition that might be causing the rapid heart rate, and treating the underlying problem might help,” says Dr. Sayeed.
If the situation is only from stress, Dr. Sayeed says that a beta-blocker drug might be of benefit.
What if you don’t want to take a drug to remedy a fast resting pulse from anxiety or stress?
Exercise is a fabulous way to lower resting pulse. Exercise not only has a direct effect on pulse, but it has an indirect effect on it (lowering, of course) by diluting the negative effect of stress and anxiety. A very effective exercise for this is HIIT.
Dr. Sayeed performs echocardiograms and stress tests at the Midtown Manhattan and Westchester offices at Columbia Doctors. He is also trained in cardiac CT imaging.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.