Question:

What can I do about my elevated heart rate?

I’m a 26yr old female 5’6 220 lbs although when I weighed 150, my heart was still doing this. Blood pressure 110/76 usually. My resting heart rate is between 100-115. Doing light chores like mopping/stair climbing climbs to 130. During sleep, usually around 80 but has spiked for 5-10mins to 115. I have a Fitbit that tracks it 24/7 and I review my sleep charts to gather this info. This has been a problem for years, I assume as this has been the norm at doctor visits. Just got the Fitbit recently to track all time. Lately I’ve been walking 4 miles a day but stopped in fear of my heart getting way high (over 220). On birth control pills and Levothyroid 88mg (few months only). Childhood filled with abuse.

Submitted by Samantha from Texas on 01/02/2016

Hi Samantha,

Thank you for contacting AAHD. Both thyroid hormone and sleep have an effect on the electrical system of the heart. Sleep disorders, which are characterized by episode of obstruction of the upper airway, leading to cessation of breathing while asleep, are commonly associated with cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). The repeated decline in blood oxygen levels leads to activation of the sympathetic nervous system which can increase blood pressure and precipitate tachycardia (fast heart rate). Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) can also be associated with tachycardia. It is common to recheck your thyroid hormone levels 6-8 weeks after starting levothyroxine. Please contact your physician to have your blood re-tested if it has not been performed since you started thyroid replacement therapy. Furthermore, an outpatient sleep study, which can be ordered by your primary care physician, is the best way to assess if you have a sleep disorder. In addition, a heart monitor can be worn for 24 hours or longer to further assess your heart rhythm at the time you notice the elevated heart rates.

With correction of thyroid abnormalities and treatment of a sleep disorder, patients can see a dramatic improvement in their heart rhythm and rate.