ZocdocAnswersIf my heart beats harder when I lay down, what does that mean?

Question

If my heart beats harder when I lay down, what does that mean?

I am 60 yrs old, and have had issues with my blood pressure. It goes up and down. I only take a diuretic, no other meds except ibuprofen. Very often, when I lay down to rest, my heart beats really hard for a few minutes.

Answer

I understand how these symptoms may be concerning. I encourage you to discuss this with your cardiologist, who can help determine the precise cause after a thorough, in-person evaluation. Many different factors affect your heart beat. Your heart beats faster during exercise to provide increased oxygen to your body. Taking a deep breath causes more blood to fill your heart, which cause a sensation of a stronger heart beat. Different positions, including lying flat, can also affect heart filling, which in turn affects your sensation of the heart beat. It is possible you are sensing premature atrial or ventricular complexes, which are essentially early heart beats. After an early beat, there is typically a brief pause. This allows extra heart filling, so the subsequent beat may feel much stronger than usual. Another cause of an abnormal heart beat is an arrhythmia. Given your history of hypertension, you are at risk for an arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation. This is potentially dangerous and increases your risk of stroke. I encourage you to discuss these symptoms with a cardiologist. An evaluation will consist of a thorough history, physical exam, and EKG. If this raises concern for an arrhythmia, you may need to undergo a 24-hour EKG to help capture the rhythm.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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