What is Bounding Pulse?

Overview of bounding pulse

A bounding pulse is a kind that makes it feel as if your heart is racing. Your pulse will likely feel very strong if you have a bounding pulse. Doctors call it palpitation when they aim to describe an abnormal pounding or fluttering of the heart. 

Causes of bounding pulse

In most cases, the cause of a bounding pulse is unknown. When it is known, it is usually not a life-threatening cause but it may also be indicative of a serious medical condition that requires intervention such as:

  • Stress and anxiety: the body responds to stress naturally by becoming anxious. Anxiety is a feeling of fear and apprehension about something that is yet to happen. They occur as normal phenomena in people but in others, it may pose a serious issue.
  • Pregnancy: the symptoms and signs of pregnancy include bleeding or spotting, urinary frequency, tender breasts, tiredness, nausea, missed periods and even a bounding pulse.
  • Fever: otherwise called hyperthermia or pyrexia. It occurs when the body temperature is elevated above the normal range.
  • Anemia: is a condition characterized by low red blood cells whose function is to distribute oxygen to all body tissues.
  • Arrhythmias: they are abnormal heart rhythms that occur when the heart is beating too fast, beating too slow, or irregularly.
  • Heart failure: it is a condition whereby the heart is unable to adequately pump blood to supply the body.
  • Hyperthyroidism: this occurs when the thyroid gland situated in the anterior neck produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. This hormone regulates energy metabolism.
  • Hypertension: means persistently elevated blood pressure. It may be asymptomatic and so one may have it for years without knowing.
  • Hypertensive Heart Disease: these are heart conditions that are due to elevated blood pressure.
  • Valvular insufficiency: when the aortic valve is damaged, it results in aortic valve insufficiency.
  • Digitalis toxicity: digitalis is a medication used to treat certain heart conditions. When taken in excess, it can cause toxicity.
  • Congestive Heart Failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet body needs. It is a chronic condition that affects the heart’s chambers.
  • Atrial fibrillation and flutter: these are abnormal heart rhythms that occur due to an irregular heart-beat from the upper chambers of the heart or a racing heart-beat.

How do I know that I have a bounding pulse?

The manifestations of a bounding pulse include:

  • A racing heartbeat
  • Pulsating feeling in the arteries of the neck or throat
  • Forceful movement of the pulse through the skin
  • A feeling of an irregular heartbeat
  • A feeling of a missed beat
  • A feeling of extra, forceful beats

Should I see a doctor when I have a bounding pulse?

In most cases, a bounding pulse may just be short-lived and does not reflect any serious condition. However, you should talk to a doctor if you have an underlying heart condition and experience a bounding pulse.

Immediate medical care is required if a bounding pulse occurs alongside these symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest tightness

Diagnosis & treatment

Be observant and keep account of what you are doing before the occurrence of a bounding pulse. Also, have a good grasp of your family history as this will help the doctor to make a diagnosis.

The doctor usually would ask the following to make a diagnosis:

  • Family history of heart problems
  • Presence of thyroid disease which may manifest as a swollen thyroid gland
  • Exposure to stress and anxiety
  • Tests such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) or a chest X-ray to exclude an arrhythmia

Medical treatment is only needed if the bounding pulse is caused by an underlying medical condition such as arrhythmias. Lifestyle modification, including weight loss, is advised for a bounding pulse caused by overweight.

If an underlying cause isn’t found, the doctor would propose ways to reduce the frequency of bounding pulse such as reducing exposure to excess stressors or limiting the consumption of caffeine.

How can I avoid a recurrence?

If your bounding pulse is caused by an underlying medical condition, ensure to be compliant on prescribed medications. If it is due to excessive weight, find ways to shed some weight and keep fit. Exercises that can be done to aid in weight loss include dog-walking, riding on a treadmill, performing house chores, walking, running, and playing catch.

When anxiety and stress seem to be the cause, find ways to relieve them such as:

  • Going out for a walk or ride
  • Laughing more
  • Taking your private time to meditate
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Keep a journal

If a doctor hasn’t found any serious underlying medical cause for your condition, try not to worry about it too much as this ends up adding more stress, which is a well-known trigger.

Decrease your alcohol, tobacco and caffeine intake as they are notable stimulants. If you are asthmatic, speak to your doctor as some of your medications may be stimulants so you can get alternatives. Try to avoid possible triggers of your bounding pulse.