What causes bounding pulse? 14 possible conditions
A bounding pulse is a pulse that feels as though your heart is pounding or racing. Your pulse will probably feel strong and powerful if you have a bounding pulse. Your doctor might refer to your bounding pulse as heart palpitations, which is a term used to describe abnormal fluttering or pounding of the heart.
With a bounding pulse, you may feel your heart is beating faster than normal. You may also feel your bounding pulse in the arteries of your neck or throat. Sometimes, you can even see the pulse as it moves the skin in a more forceful way.
It may also feel like your heart is beating irregularly or that it has missed a beat. Sometimes, it feels like there is an occasional extra, more forceful heartbeat.
Most incidences of a bounding pulse come and go within a few seconds and are not a cause for concern. However, talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you have a history of heart problems like heart disease and have a bounding pulse.
If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your bounding pulse, get emergency medical care immediately, as these could be signs of a serious problem, like a heart attack:
- abnormal sweating
- difficulty breathing
- tightness, pressure, or pain in your upper body (including neck, jaw, arms, chest, and upper back)
In many cases, the cause for a bounding pulse is never found. On the other hand, when the cause is found, it is usually not severe or life-threatening. However, on occasion, a bounding pulse can point to a serious health problem that requires medical attention.
Most Common Causes of a Bounding Pulse
One of the most common causes for a bounding pulse is being out of shape. Participating in strenuous activity that your body is not used to can cause your heart to beat harder and faster than normal.
A bounding pulse is also a common response to stress and anxiety, so if you are experiencing (for example) extra stress at work or anxiety over a bill, you might feel a bounding pulse. Drinking caffeine and taking stimulants (such as those in asthma medication) can also cause your pulse to speed up.
Less Common Causes of a Bounding Pulse
Less common but more serious conditions could potentially be the cause of your bounding pulse. An overactive thyroid, which causes a condition called hyperthyroidism, may cause your bounding pulse. Your thyroid gland controls your body’s metabolism. If your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, it could cause your heartbeat to become irregular. An arrhythmia may also be to blame for your bounding pulse. An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. It can include a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, or generally irregular.
Try to keep track of when your bounding pulse occurs and what you are doing when it happens. Also, be knowledgeable of your family’s medical history. This information will help your doctor to diagnose any condition that may potentially be causing your symptom.
Your doctor will discuss your medical history to see if you have a personal or family history of heart problems, thyroid disease, or stress and anxiety. Your doctor will also look for a swollen thyroid gland, which is a sign of hyperthyroidism. He or she may also perform tests such as a chest X-Ray or an electrocardiogram to rule out an arrhythmia. An electrocardiogram uses electrical pulses to trigger your heartbeat. This will help your doctor find irregularities in the rhythm of your heart.
Unless your bounding pulse is caused by an underlying condition such as arrhythmia or hyperthyroidism, medical treatment is usually not necessary. However, if being overweight is causing the problem, your doctor may advise you about ways to lose weight and live a healthier, more active lifestyle.
If you are found to be healthy overall, your doctor may simply recommend ways to reduce your exposure to triggers of your abnormal heartbeat, such as stress or too much caffeine.
If your condition is caused by a health condition such as hyperthyroidism or an arrhythmia, be sure to follow the health regimen your doctor recommends. This includes taking any medications that he or she has prescribed.
If you are overweight and experiencing bounding pulse, try to find healthy ways to lose weight and get in shape. The Mayo Clinic suggests some fun, easy ways to work fitness into your schedule, such as (Mayo, 2010):
- taking your dog or the neighbor’s dog for a walk
- using television time to be active (lift weights, walk on the treadmill, ride your exercise bike)
- doing chores with gusto (mopping the floor, scrubbing the bathtub, mowing the lawn with a push mower, raking leaves, and digging the garden are especially good calorie-burning activities)
- making fitness your family time (ride bikes together, play some catch, walk or run together)
- starting a lunchtime walking group at work
If stress and anxiety seem to be the culprit, take steps to reduce them by doing things like:
- laughing more (watch a comedy; read a funny book or the comics)
- connecting with friends and family (make plans to meet for dinner or coffee)
- getting outside and being active (take a walk, ride your bike)
- meditating (quieting your mind)
- getting more sleep
- keeping a journal
Once your doctor has determined that you don’t have any serious underlying causes for your heart palpitations, try not to worry about them too much. Worrying about your irregular heartbeat only adds additional stress to your life.
Limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption can also help to keep your pulse from bounding. Some herbs (such as those used in energy drinks), medications, and even tobacco smoke can act as stimulants and should be avoided. Talk to your doctor about stimulant medications you may be on (like those used for asthma) and what your options may be for using an alternative. Do your best to avoid any potential triggers of your bounding pulse.
- Arrhythmia: Heart palpitations. (2012). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/electric/palpitations.aspx
- Boris, J. R. (2009, June). Heart palpitations (irregular heartbeats and skipped heartbeats). The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://www.chop.edu/service/cardiac-center/heart-conditions/palpitations.html
- Dugdale III, D. C., & Zieve, D. (2010, May 23). Pulse – bounding. University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/003077all.htm
- Fitting in fitness: Finding time for physical activity. (2010, October 30). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/Fitness/HQ01217_D
- Heart palpitations. (2011, April 21). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-palpitations/DS01139
- Hyperthyroidism. (2010, December 4). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hyperthyroidism/DS00344
- Stress relievers: Top 10 picks to tame stress. (2010, September 28). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relievers/MY01373/NSECTIONGROUP=2
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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