Summers are a time of rising temperatures. It brings fun activities like pool parties to flaunt that bikini body you have worked on all winter. And not to forget the cocktails and popsicles that calm your nerves down. However, all this can end in smoke due to an energy-draining fact, dehydration.
Why Does Dehydration Increase Heart Rate?
Dehydration can lead to an increase in heart rate due to several physiological factors. Your blood volume instantly reduces when your body loses water. Reduced blood volume impacts your cardiovascular system, and triggers heart palpitations.
However, this relationship between your heart rate and dehydration also depends on your age, fitness level, and entire health condition.
What Are the Cardiac Effects of Dehydration?
Following are the ways how dehydration can affect the heart:
1. Decreased Blood Volume
Dehydration causes a reduction in the entire volume of blood in the circulatory system. When there’s less than the required amount of blood available, the heart has to pump 2-3 times faster. After all, it is your heart that provides the required oxygen and nutrients to each tissue and organ in your body.
2. Reduced Stroke Volume:
Stroke volume is the amount of blood your heart pumps with each beat it produces. Dehydration can cause your stroke volume to reduce as there is less amount of blood to be pumped.
To make up for this reduction, your heart rate increases to keep up the cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood your heart pumps every minute. Hence, you feel palpitations.
3. Increased Blood Viscosity:
Dehydration can cause an increase in the viscosity or thickness of the blood. When blood becomes thicker, it flows more slowly through the blood vessels. To manage the correct blood flow, the heart has to pump faster than usual.
4. Activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System:
Dehydration can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. This activation allows the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones. This can increase heart rate as part of the body’s response to stress.
5. Electrolyte Imbalance:
Dehydration often includes a loss of electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) through sweating and other mechanisms. Electrolytes manage the electrical balance of the heart. An imbalance in electrolytes can interfere with the normal electrical signals in the heart, causing an increased heart rate.
How to Stop Palpitations Immediately?
To immediately stop the heart palpitation and bring your heart rate down to normal. You can:
- Take deep breaths. Inhale deeply and hold your breath for a few seconds before letting it out
- Forcefully coughing can stimulate the vagus nerve to disrupt fast heart rhythms.
- Face your face with cold water.
- Change your position. Lie down, sit, or squat to bring your heart rate to normal.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga to get rid of stress and anxiety.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids to stay hydrated at all times.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine as they are huge stimulants to heart palpitations.
Dehydration can certainly cause heart palpitations. However, they are not a matter of concern. But if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or dizziness.
Reach out to our board-certified Cardiology expert Dr. Philip L Berman at Memorial Cardiology Associates. Our doctor specializes in General Cardiology and arrhythmia management to diagnose your cardiac health properly. Call us at (713) 464-6006.