Faster heartbeat, higher risk

When your heart starts racing during exercise, it's a sure sign you're doing it right.

But if you have a fast heartbeat the rest of the time, you could be racing towards serious health problems -- because a quick resting pulse can be a warning sign of heart risk.

And now, new research shows your pulse doesn't have to be especially high for you to face those risks -- just fast enough to be at the high end of "normal."

Right now, that range includes everything from a heart that ticks like clockwork at 60 beats per minute to one that races along at 100.

But the new fast heartbeat study published in the journal Heart could have doctors rethinking that "normal" zone -- because it finds that seniors who beat at a supposedly healthy 80 per minute die an average of four or five years earlier than those who beat at 65 per minute.

That's not the end of the risk, either. Every 10-beat increase on top of that increases the risk of an early death by another 16 percent, according to the study of 1,600 men tracked for up to 16 years.

The study was on men, but there's no reason to believe the results wouldn't be similar in women -- and that means it's time to listen to your own heartbeat to see if it's trying to tell you something.

And if it's a little on the high side, there are simple and completely natural actions you can take to bring your fast heartbeat back down.

First, don't worry too much about it -- because stress can actually cause your heart to beat even faster.

And second, get more exercise... especially if you're not getting much in the first place.

I know that may sound counterintuitive, since exercise can cause your heart to gallop along at high speeds while you're doing it. But a regular exercise habit can actually have the opposite effect on your resting pulse, bringing it down into the normal range when you're not working out.

If you're already doing all that and you still have a fast heartbeat, don't panic and don't start looking for meds. Work with a holistic doctor who can identify the cause instead.

And for complete natural cardiac care in the southern California area, make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.