When Your Heartrate and Blood Pressure Unexpectedly Spike, Here’s Something You Can Do

Lately I’ve noticed something rather disturbing; my resting heart rate is ticking upward.

I’ve spilled a lot of pixels on the topic, but the Cole’s Notes version is this:

  • my resting heart rate used to be about 60
  • when I’m sick, I notice that it goes up (it was as high as 80 when I had COVID)
  • over the last 2 years, I’ve noticed it slowly trending upward into the high 60s

The last week or so, I’ve been seeing resting heart rates into the low 70s. An increase of over 10 beats per minute is a serious concern for me.

Worse yet, that’s not my only concern.

In addition to seeing my heart rate tracker showing a higher bpm, I’m feeling my heartbeat. Not just when I’m exercising, not even just when I’m sitting in the dark and quiet. I’m noticing my heartbeat almost all the time.

And it’s not just that I’m noticing it. It’s that it feels like it’s pounding. I’ll be standing in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil, and I’ll feel it; thumpa, thumpa thump.

Is it a sign of increased blood pressure? I am at risk for hypertension; Dad’s been on medication for years, and Gran was on it for at minimum the final decade of her life, but this heart problem came out of the blue. Two years ago my doctor was starting to get concerned about my blood pressure, but that was the result of a years long upward creep in the numbers.

Funny enough, the change needed to return my BP to normal was to start working from home. No commute, no coworkers bothering me and boom, my BP dropped.

This problem came on suddenly.

Is it sickness? I haven’t been coughing, nauseous or feverish in months, not since COVID. Which makes me worry it’s a symptom of long COVID, but until now I haven’t noticed anything. In fact, over the last two months, as I’ve been exercising my way back into shape, I’ve seen a small downward trend for my resting heartrate.

Maybe it’s got something to do with my depression.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately and there are a lot of potential reasons hiding behind that. Depression has me unmotivated, out of shape, and easily distracted by games or TV shows. I’m not getting to bed anywhere near on time, and I’m often running on well under six, and sometimes under five, hours of sleep.

This has me drinking way more coffee than I normally might. Is the extra caffeine contributing to both my heart concerns, and my sleep deprivation? Probably. I had hoped that exercising more would correct my sleep issues, but no such luck thus far.

Fortunately I’m now coming to a tipping point. I’ve been exercising consistently enough, for long enough, that I’m starting to see the signs that exercise has once again become habitual. That means that I now have some spare mental capacity to apply to a new task.

My new task?

Devote the same attention and methodology I used to get exercising again to getting my sleep back in order:

  • create a routine
  • set a schedule
  • start, get to bed on time once
  • repeat the next night to create a streak
  • maintain the streak for its own sake
  • keep going until the streak becomes a habit.

Will this address my concerns with my heartrate and blood pressure? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the benefits of a good night’s sleep are many, so even absent my heart concerns, it’s worth doing in and of itself.