Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze: What’s the Truth?

You already know how it feels to sneezing – you sense that threatening tickle in the back of your nose first followed by the gasping intake of breathing and a cathartic blast in the end. Anything that irritates your nasal passages could allow you to sneeze. Discomfort in your nasal passages signals the brain, and then your body responds by managing the muscle tissue in your nasal passages to expel air powerfully. There are several myths and interesting facts associated with sneezing. Some people say sneezing makes your heart stop. Is it true?

Does Your Heart stop when you sneeze?

The simple reality is no! Sneezing does not make your heart stop. There is an increase in the intrathoracic pressure when you sneezing. When this happens, the blood circulation to your heart is decreased. This consequently creates your heart modify its regular heartbeat for a short time to adjust. What it means is that your heart does not stop when you sneezing, and actually, there is a change in the rhythm of your heartbeat, which may make you feel that your heart has skipped a beat. Does your heart stop when you sneeze? Now you know the response.

A sneezing is an involuntary nasal reaction caused by irritation to the mucous membranes. There are many traditional beliefs about sneezing, such as the notion that the heart stops beating momentarily during a sneeze, essentially “killing” you for an instant, which is why it’s common for someone to “bless you” after a sneezing. The truth, though, is a little different.

Just before sneezing, a lot of people relax slowly. This improves pressure in the chest and briefly inhibits the blood flow to the heart, which can reduced hypertension and boosts the heart rate. But as you exhale, your blood pressure improves and heart rate, consequently, goes down. At one time, sneezing arouses the vagus nerve, which operates from the brain through the stomach. In general, any moment the vagus nerve is stimulated, the body’s reaction is to reduce the heart rate. The effect of this is minimal, however, slowing the heart perhaps only a single beat.

Angelica Modica

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