What is a bounding pulse?

A bounding pulse is a pulse that feels as though your heart is pounding or racing. Your pulse will probably feel strong and powerful if you have a bounding pulse. Your doctor might refer to your bounding pulse as heart palpitations, which is a term used to describe abnormal fluttering or pounding of the heart.

Underlying causes of a bounding pulse

In many cases, the cause for a bounding pulse is never found. On the other hand, when the cause is found, it is usually not severe or life-threatening. But on occasion, a bounding pulse can point to a serious health problem that requires medical attention.

  • Anxiety: Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear and apprehension about what’s to come.
  • Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but in some people, they can become bigger issues.
  • Pregnancy: Bleeding or spotting, increased need to urinate, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, and missed period are signs of pregnancy.
  • Fever: Fever is also known as hyperthermia, pyrexia, or elevated temperature. It describes a body temperature that’s higher than normal.
  • Heart failure: Heart failure is characterized by the heart’s inability to pump an adequate supply of blood.
  • Anemia: Anemia happens when the number of healthy red blood cells in your body is too low. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all of the body’s tissues.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms: An abnormal heart rhythm is when your heart beats too fast, slow, or irregularly. This is also called an arrhythmia.
  • Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid gland produces a hormone that controls how your cells use energy. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the body produces excessive amounts.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure (hypertension) is often associated with few or no symptoms. Many people have it for years without knowing it.
  • Aortic valve insufficiency: Aortic valve insufficiency (AVI) is also called aortic insufficiency or aortic regurgitation. This condition develops when the aortic valve is damaged.
  • Hypertensive heart disease: Hypertensive heart disease refers to heart conditions caused by high blood pressure.
  • Atrial fibrillation and flutter: Atrial fibrillation and flutter are irregular heart rhythms that occur when the upper chambers of the heartbeat irregularly or too fast.
  • Congestive heart failure: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition that affects the chambers of your heart.
  • Digitalis toxicity: Digitalis toxicity occurs when you take too much digitalis, a medication used to treat heart conditions. This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

How will I know that my pulse is bounding?

With abounding pulse, you may feel that your heart is beating faster than normal. You may feel your pulse in the arteries of your neck or throat. Sometimes you can even see the pulse as it moves the skin in a more forceful way.

It may also feel like your heart is beating irregularly or that it has missed a beat, or like there is an occasional extra, more forceful heartbeat.

Do I need to see a doctor for a bounding pulse?

Most incidences of a bounding pulse come and go within a few seconds and are not a cause for concern. However, talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you have a history of heart problems, such as heart disease, and have a bounding pulse.

If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your bounding pulse, get emergency medical care immediately, as these could be signs of a serious problem, like a heart attack:

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • abnormal sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • difficulty breathing
  • fainting
  • tightness, pressure, or pain in your neck, jaw, arms, chest, or upper back

Diagnosing and treating your symptoms

Try to keep track of when your bounding pulse occurs and what you are doing when it happens. Also, be knowledgeable about your family’s medical history. This information will help your doctor to diagnose any condition that may be causing your symptom.

Your doctor will discuss your medical history to see if you have a personal or family history of heart problems, thyroid disease, or stress and anxiety. Your doctor will also look for a swollen thyroid gland, which is a sign of hyperthyroidism. They may perform tests such as a chest X-ray or electrocardiogram to rule out arrhythmia. An electrocardiogram uses electrical pulses to trigger your heartbeat. This will help your doctor find irregularities in the rhythm of your heart.

Unless your bounding pulse is caused by an underlying condition such as arrhythmia or hyperthyroidism, medical treatment is usually not necessary. However, if being overweight is causing the problem, your doctor may advise you about ways to lose weight and live a healthier, more active lifestyle.

If you are found to be healthy overall, your doctor may simply recommend ways to reduce your exposure to triggers of your abnormal heartbeat, such as stress or too much caffeine.

What can I do to stop my symptoms from returning?

If your bounding pulse is caused by a health condition such as hyperthyroidism or an arrhythmia, be sure to follow the health regimen your doctor recommends. This includes taking any medications that they have prescribed.

If you are overweight and experiencing a bounding pulse, try to find healthy ways to lose weight and get in shape. The Mayo Clinic suggests some fun, easy ways work fitness into your schedule, such as:

  • taking your dog or the neighbor’s dog for a walk
  • using television time to be active by lifting weights, walking on the treadmill, or riding your exercise bike
  • doing chores such as mopping the floor, scrubbing the bathtub, mowing the lawn with a push mower, raking leaves, and digging in the garden
  • making fitness your family time such as riding bikes together, playing catch, walking, or running
  • starting a lunchtime walking group at work

If stress and anxiety seem to be the culprit, take steps to reduce them by doing things like:

  • laughing more: watch a comedy or read a funny book
  • connecting with friends and family: make plans to meet for dinner or coffee
  • getting outside: take a walk or ride your bike
  • meditating: quiet your mind
  • getting more sleep
  • keeping a journal

Once your doctor has determined that you don’t have any serious underlying causes for your heart palpitations, try not to worry about them too much. Worrying about your irregular heartbeat only adds additional stress to your life.

Limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption can also help to keep your pulse from bounding. Some herbs (such as those used in energy drinks), medications, and even tobacco smoke can act as stimulants and should be avoided. Talk to your doctor about stimulant medications you may be on (like those used for asthma) and what your options may be for using an alternative. Do your best to avoid any potential triggers of your bounding pulse.