What are the Common Causes of a High Heart Rate?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 March 2020
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There are many reasons why a person can experience a high heart rate. Of the myriad of possibilities, many are regarded as uncommon or rare diseases and heart problems. One of the more common causes of a high heart rate are emotional states that arise in response to something stressful or highly intense. Another category of common causes of increased heart rate is that of recreational drugs, such as nicotine and caffeine, which often act in conjunction with the human body’s normal systems to stimulate heart rate. Finally, engaging in exercise can result in an increased heart rate, though in most cases this is a healthy and positive activity.

Many emotional states can result in a high heart rate; for example, excitement, nervousness, and anger can all result in an increased heart rate. Often, this is because the body is engaging in a fight or flight reaction to a stressful or otherwise dangerous situation. Other times, the body may simply be reacting to a person’s mind moving into a more focused and active mental state. In other cases still, the body may be reacting to stresses that are not actionable, resulting in a cycle of unhealthy panicked states.


Commonly consumed recreational drugs can impact the human heart in a way that results in a high heart rate. For example, caffeine, a stimulant that is often consumed in beverages like coffee and soda pop, can lead to a heightened heart rate after consumption. This is because caffeine interacts with receptors that exist around the human heart muscle in a way that can increase the heart rate. Another commonly consumed recreational drug that can result in a high heart rate, similarly to caffeine, is nicotine, a drug that is commonly accessed through tobacco products. Nicotine leads to a high heart rate because it sets off a chain of reactions that results in the release of adrenaline, which directly affects heart rate.

Lastly, engaging in exercise can also result in an elevated heart rate. Except for specific zones of high, extremely strenuous, and consistent heart rate elevation during exercise, exercise is typically regarded as an activity that is good for the heart. Lack of exercise is generally regarded as a common cause of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Exercise has also been linked to an increased sense of well-being and can help prevent negative states such as insomnia and depression.


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Post 4

@cloudel – I know how that feels. I once took a medication that affected my heart rate, and I had to stop taking it after only three days.

It was a diuretic, and it was designed to flush toxins out of my body by making me pee a lot. It also made me incredibly thirsty.

Well, I think it worked a little too well. It made both my heart rate and my blood pressure go up a lot, and this was probably because it was flushing my potassium out with the water. Low potassium can increase your heart rate and can be very dangerous.

The high heart rate made me feel very anxious and shaky. I knew that I had to stop taking the medication in order to feel normal again.

Post 3

My heart rate would increase whenever my crush was around. In just a couple of seconds, I could go from having a normal heart rate to having the same heart rate as a person in danger or panic.

I think it's funny that opposite feelings can have the same effect on the heart. Puppy love and fear both make it beat faster.

It makes me wonder if there is any difference in the way the heart beats in certain situations. I know that it speeds up, but maybe there are different patterns for fear and excitement.

Post 2

Some medications can raise your heart rate. I took a decongestant that caused me to have a high heart rate even at rest.

It kept me awake, because it made my heart speed up, and this made me nervous. I just felt like something was really wrong. There was nothing I could do to lower it, so I just had to wait until the medicine wore off.

Post 1

I try not to get too much of a high heart rate during exercise. If I get to where I am gasping desperately for breath, then my heart rate has gotten too high.

This used to happen when I ran for exercise. It was just too strenuous for me, partially because I wasn't used to it. I just jumped in all at once and overwhelmed myself.

I like doing light aerobics that keep my heart at a steady, slightly increased rate without driving it to dangerous heights. It's more enjoyable and I'm able to stick with it longer.

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