Last week I was noodling a problem with my resting heartrate. Or, perhaps not a problem with, but rather an unexpected change to, my resting heart rate.
A normal resting heartrate ranges somewhere between 60 and 80 beats per minute. A million years ago, the summer after I graduated Engineering, I recall a conversation with my doctor about my blood pressure.
He noted my BP was a little elevated, but that I had a low resting heart rate. A rate that he noted got down where it was because I exercised it down there. In short, low heart rate, slightly elevated BP, but absolutely nothing to worry about.
As it happens, my resting heartrate is on the low end of the normal range, closer to 60 bpm, but lately it has ticked up into the high 60s, even into the low 70s, and this 10 bpm increase in my resting heart rate has caused me a great deal of concern.
Well, there are four reasons why my resting heartrate might increase:
- Poor sleep
Each of these factors has many facets, but here are the points salient to me.
We’re living in parlous times. The economy is poised to crash, and our halfwit “leaders” are a pack of greedy, self-serving, ignorant jackasses. The average voting slackwit has absolutely no clue the shitstorm headed our way, and is poised to keep the morons in power. Food and fuel inflation are straining our budgets, and I’ve got teenage boy appetites to deal with. And the fools in power seem to be looking to repeat the lockdown stupidity, which was the immediate cause of the economic crisis headed our way.
None of which even touches the mental health issues I’m dealing with, and finally getting a handle on my depression is not exactly a walk in the park.
- Poor Sleep.
The stresses noted, in particular the mental health crisis, have changed my sleep habits. Which is to day, they’ve gone from poor to terrible. I’m chronically short on sleep, but the last year in general, and the last few months in particular, have me in full on sleep deprivation.
My diet is generally considered to be heart unhealthy. I eat more red meat, and fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended. Of course, the dietary recommendations I’m flouting led to our present epidemic of obesity and diabetes, particularly in children, so I’ll take this one with a massive grain of salt.
On the other hand, I like coffee. A lot. Probably too much. And, while coffee is actually so healthy for you it should be classified a “super food,” too much caffeine has a direct effect on your resting heart rate, i.e. it raises it.
When I have a cold or flu, I notice that my resting heartrate ticks up. This is so predictable that I know the peak of the infection has passed when I see the rate ticking back down.
It was particularly noticeable when I had COVID. On peak infection day, my resting rate was 80 bpm, and for me, that is completely unheard of.
Given those four inputs, what was I to do?
First, deal with my stress.
There are two components to this; reduce the stressful inputs, and deal with the effects. It was a long weekend up here in the Demented Dominion, and having three days off I:
- spent the weekend playing with my kids
- got a crap ton of cleaning and gardening done, reducing the size of my to-do list
- got in two workouts a day
- meditated daily
- spent time with my beautiful, long suffering bride
- most important of all, I completely unplugged from media. I had literally no computer logon time from Friday end of work until Tuesday morning. Which in turn meant I have no idea what Blackface Hitler and the Fat Fascist Fuckwit of Queen’s Park were doing, and therefore no stress from it.
Second, fix your sleep.
I’ve never had good sleep. Ever. Even in high school I was an insomniac, and the years haven’t made it better, but good sleep is critical for good health; physical and mental. So, I began addressing my sleep the same way I have been addressing my fitness; systematically.
- Get to bed on time one night (Monday)
- No matter the temptation to stay up late, repeat this on Tuesday
- No matter the distractions, repeat this on Wednesday
- By Thursday I had a streak going and wanted to continue it for its own sake.
- Over the weekend I actually had a couple of decent, restful nights
Third, what about diet?
Well, I’m on a seafood diet. My wife makes food, I see it, and then I eat it. There really isn’t any slack there for me to make a change.
However, I can restrict my coffee to 3 cups per day, and move on to tea afterward. There is some research indicating that all forms of real tea (not that herbs and berries shit) can help with blood pressure.
So I drank a lot more tea, and a lot less coffee.
Fourth, what about sickness?
This is the one that actually worried me. I’m physically healthy, even when my immune system is suppressed due to depression, stress or sleep deprivation. I get the occasional cold, but symptoms normally last no more than two or three days, tops.
The problem was, I had no symptoms of anything, and my worry was long COVID. Did the virus engineered by the fuckers in Wuhan, hired by the Malignant Garden Gnome, Anthony Fauci, permanently screw up my heart?
My heart was thumping, hard, beating 10 – 12 bpm faster than normal, and it was doing so for no discernable reason. Did the bastards afflict me with myo-pericarditis?
For a healthy, fit man with no history of heart problems, this was profoundly disconcerting. So I meditated, and got better sleep, and cut back on coffee, and ramped up my exercise and most of all I unplugged from the news.
Each action had an effect, one of them (meditating) an actual measurable effect. And in the end, by Sunday my resting heartrate was back in the low 60s, where it belongs.