How to Lower Heart Rate: 10 Natural Methods

Updated in July 2023

To lower a fast heart rate, you should breathe deeply for 3 to 5 minutes to allow more oxygen to enter the body and reduce your heart's workload. You can also try coughing strongly 5 times, which will help to draw out carbon dioxide, or place a cold water compress on your face to help you relax

A fast heart rate is considered to be a heart rate over 100 beats per minute. This symptom is also referred to as tachycardia, and can alter the way your blood flows to your body’s tissues. Some symptoms related to fast heart rates are fatigue, shortness of breath and general malaise. Most times, when palpitations are felt, it is not a serious health problem. It is usually related to stressful situations or anxiety, and can occur with other symptoms like headache or cold sweats. 

If your palpitations last for over 30 minutes and do not improve with the methods outlined below to lower hear rate, or if they occur while you are sleeping, or if you faint as a result, you should call for an ambulance, as these are signs of heart problems. Learn more about the heart disease symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Ways to lower your heart rate 

Some methods for lowering your heart rate to normal levels include: 

1. Hip hinge stretch 

Stand with your legs straight and bend at the hips to hug your knees or touch your toes. Lowering your head below heart level will promote blood flow to the heart to ensure efficient pumping at slower rates. 

2. Cold compress

A cold compress on the forehead has an immediate calming effect that stimulates vasoconstriction. This can help to lower body temperature and blood flow to the head, which can slow down a heart rate. 

3. Deep coughing  

Take a deep breath, making sure your belly is fully expanded. Then cough forcefully, and repeat 5 times. This triggers the Valsalva maneuver, which increases peripheral resistance in the blood vessels and lowers heart rate. 

4. Slowly exhaling

Exhale very slowly with your lips pursed or your mouth slightly open at least 5 times. Forcefully blowing out air helps to decrease carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which decreases how hard your heart has to work.

5. Deep inhalation

Breathe deeply by inhaling through your mouth and repeat 5 times. This exercise can be combined with the exercise above. Inhaling deeply increases the amount of oxygen available to be delivered to the rest of your body without overexerting the heart. 

6. Counting down

Count down from 60 to 0 slowly while looking at the ceiling. This is a simple relaxation technique that can ease a racing mind and reduce stress, both which contribute to a higher heart rate. 

7. Soothing tea

If you’re looking for more relaxation methods, drink a soothing tea made with herbs for anxiety, like valerian or chamomile tea. These teas contain bioactive properties that help to reduce the production of stress hormones and boost circulation. 

8. Avoid stimulants

Stimulants, like coffee, chocolate, refined sugar, alcohol, tobacco and energy drinks, contain substances that excite the central nervous system and the brain, causing effects like higher heart rate, higher blood pressure and a higher urine output.

9. Sufficient rest

Resting in a quiet, comfortable space with diminished lights and sounds can help to reduce stress-inducing triggers that contribute to a higher heart rate. You can cover your eyes, use ear plugs or listen to soothing sounds to achieve further relaxation. Check out some teas for sleep that you can prepare to get a restful night of sleep.

10. Regular exercise 

For a more chronic management of heart rate, you should engage in physical activity on a regular basis. The heart is a muscle that needs to be trained to work efficiently, just like other muscles in the body. Moderate-intensity exercise can help the heart to contract and relax  

Symptoms of tachycardia, like fatigue, shortness of breath, general malaise, weight on your chest, palpitations and weakness, should start to decrease after a few minutes of using these techniques. Even if you are able to relieve the fast heart rate, you should avoid food and drinks that can increase heart rate, like chocolate, coffee or energy drinks. 

If your fast heart rate lasts for over 30 minutes, if you feel numbness on one side of the body or if you faint as a result, you should call for an ambulance, as these are signs of a heart problem. These symptoms require treatment in the hospital, which may include the use of IV medication. Learn more about the common symptoms of a heart attack.

Medications to control palpitations 

If tachycardia occurs several times per week, you should see your doctor for assessment. Your doctor may order exams like an ECG, an echocardiogram or an 24-hour holter to assess your heart function. 

After reaching a diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe medication that helps to control fast heart rates, like amiodarone or atenolol. These should only be taken as prescribed by the doctor.

Anxiolytic medication, like Xanax or diazepam, can also help to control increased heart rates related to stress or anxiety. These medications are usually prescribed as PRN, or as needed, when people are experiencing an anxiety attack, for example. 

How to prevent a fast heart rate

You can slow down your average heart rate naturally over time by incorporating lifestyle changes into your daily routine. Some examples include avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol, and quitting smoking.  

You should also maintain a healthy diet that is low in fat and sugar. Exercise can help to release substances called endorphins, which can cause a feeling of pleasure and happiness. You should also consider partaking in more activities that reduce stress and anxiety, like meditation. 

See what a normal heart rate is and how to measure it. 

When to see the doctor 

You should go to the emergency room if: 

  • Your palpitations last for over 30 minutes
  • You experience symptoms like chest pain that radiates to the left arm, numbness, tingling, headaches or shortness of breath 
  • If it occurs more than twice per week 

In these cases, your palpitations may be related to a more serious heart problem, and should be assessed by a cardiologist.