Lisa Nelson RD #12: Many individuals that visit MyHeartCentral are confused about the relationship between blood pressure and heart rate. Would you please explain if there is a connection between high or low blood pressure and someone’s heart rate? For example, if someone lowers their blood pressure, should they see a corresponding decrease in heart rate? Also, should someone be concerned about a consistently high heart rate, such as 100 bpm?
Dr. Shelby-Lane: Blood pressure and heart rate are interrelated components of the cardiovascular system and therefore, not mutually exclusively. One can affect the other.
Persons with well controlled high blood pressure, with or without medication, can also have a cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heart beat. This heart rhythm problem, if poorly controlled can then affect the blood pressure.
Persons with low blood pressure, due to a variety of reasons, can have a normal or abnormal heart rhythm. Person with a disorder called neurocardiogenic syncope can have low blood pressure and a low or normal heart rate, but this is positional in nature and may involve a severe hormone problem related to the adrenal glands.
Lisa Nelson RD**:** Hmmm, not sure you answered the question. Yes, blood pressure and heart rate are connected. If someone lowers there blood pressure via medication or lifestyle changes, should they expect a lower heart rate also?
Dr. Shelby Lane**:** This is not a straight forward answer. You can have normal blood pressure and an altered heart rate or vice versa. Heart rate and rhythm may be caused by electrical disturbances which may or may not affect blood pressure. Again, there is no one answer and follow up with a specialist is needed since there are multiple causes for high and low blood pressure as well as heart rhythm disturbances. Hope this makes sense.
Lisa Nelson RD**:** Thanks for the clarification. There is not one set answer for this question.
To learn more about Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, you can check out the services she offers at www.elanantiaging.meta-ehealth.com.
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Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.