What is pulse?
A pulse is the rhythmic expansion and contraction of an artery caused by the regular beating of the heart. When you take your pulse, you’re feeling the waves of pressure that travel through your arteries each time your heart beats.
What is a normal pulse rate?
Your pulse rate, also known as your heart rate, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. A normal resting heart rate should be between 60 to 100 beats per minute, but it can vary from minute to minute.
Your age and general health can also affect your pulse rate, so it’s important to remember that a ‘normal’ pulse can vary from person to person. An athlete’s pulse may be as low as 40 to 60 beats per minute.
What can cause a high pulse rate?
Tachycardia in adults refers to a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute. How that’s defined may depend on your age and physical condition.
Some things that can cause an elevated pulse rate include:
- Dehydration – Not drinking enough fluids can make your heart work harder to pump blood through your body. This increases your pulse.
- Stress – When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline that make your heart beat faster. Even low-level stress can raise your pulse slightly.
- Fever – When you have an infection or illness that increases your body temperature, your heart rate naturally increases to help your body stay cooler.
- Medications – Some drugs like decongestants, diet pills and stimulants can speed up your heart rate.
- Caffeine – Caffeinated beverages are diuretics that cause fluid loss and stimulate your nervous system, both of which increase your pulse.
- Thyroid problems – An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can cause a resting heart rate that is frequently over 100 beats per minute.
- Anxiety – Mental health conditions like anxiety disorders are associated with a persistently elevated pulse even at rest.
It is important to maintain a healthy pulse rate because a high pulse rate can put a strain on your heart and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. By maintaining a healthy pulse rate, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of these health issues.
When donating plasma, it is especially important to maintain a healthy pulse rate because a high pulse rate can make the donation process more difficult and uncomfortable. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to lower your pulse rate before donating plasma.
Why is it important to lower your pulse before donating plasma?
There are a few reasons why it’s important to lower your pulse before donating plasma:
- Many donation centers have a maximum allowable pulse rate. If your pulse is too high, you may not be eligible to donate plasma on that day.
- A lower pulse means your heart is working more efficiently. This makes the donation process easier on your body and reduces the risk of side effects like dizziness, nausea and headaches.
- A high pulse can potentially interfere with the plasma separation process. The machines used work best within a certain pulse range to effectively separate the plasma from your red blood cells.
- Elevated heart rates have been associated with a higher risk of bruising and hemostatic complications during plasma donation. Lower pulses lead to smoother donations.
- Higher pulses require your heart to work harder, which can cause fatigue during and after your donation. Recovering plasma volume also takes longer with an elevated pulse.
- Your blood pressure tends to be higher with an increased pulse rate. This could impact your eligibility to donate plasma on that particular day.
- Many conditions that cause high pulse also dehydrate you by increasing fluid loss. Proper hydration is key for a safe and comfortable plasma donation.
Lowering your pulse before donating plasma helps ensure a safe, smooth donation with minimal side effects. The donation machines work best within a certain pulse range and many centers have maximum pulse rate requirements for eligibility. Focusing on strategies to lower your resting pulse can make a big difference in your donation experience.
How to lower your pulse before donating plasma?
Here are some tips to help lower your pulse rate before donating plasma:
- Hydrate well – Being dehydrated can significantly increase your heart rate. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your donation. Aim for 3 to 4 liters of water per day.
- Reduce caffeine – Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can elevate your pulse. Limit coffee and other caffeinated drinks at least 6 hours before donating.
- Practice deep breathing – Take slow, deep breaths for 5 to 10 minutes to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and lower your heart rate. Focus on lengthening your exhales.
- Exercise ahead of time – Doing light to moderate exercise 1-2 days before donating can lower your resting heart rate for up to 48 hours afterwards. Avoid exercising on the same day you donate.
- Reduce stress – Stress hormones cause temporary rises in pulse. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods at least 15-20 minutes before donating.
- Take your medicine – If you use medication to regulate your pulse or blood pressure, be sure to take it as prescribed before donating.
- Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep increases resting heart rate. Aim for 8 hours of sleep the night before donating to have the lowest possible pulse.
- Eat a light meal – Opt for a low-fat, low-protein snack a few hours before donating. Heavy, high protein meals require more work from your heart.
- Check your pulse at home – Use a heart rate monitor or manually take your pulse for 1 minute to determine if it’s below 100 beats per minute.
- Consult your doctor – If you regularly have a high resting pulse, discuss options with your healthcare provider to rule out any issues and lower your rate.
What should I do if my pulse rate is still high?
Here are some recommendations if your pulse rate remains high before donating plasma:
- Recheck your pulse after hydrating – Drink a few glasses of water and wait 15-20 minutes before taking your pulse again. Even mild dehydration can significantly raise your heart rate.
- Reduce caffeine further – If caffeine is a regular part of your diet, cut out all sources for at least 12 hours before donation to see if it lowers your pulse. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine’s effects.
- Practice deep breathing for longer – Extend your deep breathing session to 15-20 minutes to give your parasympathetic nervous system more time to kick in and slow your heart. Focus on slower, deeper breaths.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation – This technique involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups while breathing deeply. It can lower your heart rate more effectively than deep breathing alone.
- Take any prescribed medications – If you use blood pressure or heart rhythm medication, ensure you take your regular dose before donating. Untreated high blood pressure can contribute to an elevated pulse.
- Consult your doctor – Especially if you regularly experience a high resting pulse, speak to your healthcare provider to rule out any issues that may be contributing.
- Wait to donate – If your pulse remains high despite your efforts, consider delaying your plasma donation for a day or two. Focus on proper hydration and the root cause of your elevated rate before attempting to donate again.
- Talk to the staff – Explain your high pulse and the efforts you’ve made to lower it when you arrive for your donation. They may provide additional recommendations or decide to defer you on that particular day. Your health comes first.
In summary, seeking advice from your doctor and the donation center staff is critical if simple methods fail to lower your high pulse before donating plasma. Your health and safety must take top priority. Please see your provider promptly if an elevated pulse becomes a recurring issue.