IU Health Bloomington Hospital

What is Your Heartbeat Telling You?

Health & Wellness

July 31, 2019

A normal resting heart rate for adults runs between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If it’s lower than that, it can indicate an even more efficient heart. A well-trained runner, for example, could have a resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute. Below are some common cardiovascular disorders and how to recognize them.


Arrhythmia occurs when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly. This causes your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. Common symptoms often include dizziness, breathlessness and palpitations.

Myocardial Infarction

Otherwise known as a heart attack, myocardial infarctions take over 600,000 lives per year in the United States alone. A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, often caused by a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. Common signs can include tightness in your chest or arm, nausea, heartburn or shortness of breath.

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

SVT is identified by a regular, abnormally rapid heartbeat. With SVT, an individual will experience bursts of accelerated heartbeats that can last from seconds to hours. The heart rate accelerates too quickly and doesn’t allow enough time for the heart to fill before it contracts again. Symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath or light-headedness.


Angina is characterized by chest pain and discomfort, when your heart muscles do not get enough oxygen-rich blood. This discomfort may occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back. Sometimes, it may even feel like indigestion.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib or “quivering heartbeat,” is a type of heart arrhythmia that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other complications. When the heart is in AFib, the chambers of the heart beat irregularly instead of beating systematically to move blood into the ventricles.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. There are many uncontrollable risk factors, such as age, race and family history. But the majority of heart disease is actually preventable, and by living a healthy lifestyle, with diet and exercise, and following your doctor’s advice on controlling blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels, you can reduce this risk by almost 80 percent.” – Saki Miwa, MD

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