What Is A Normal Heart Rate?

 

The Importance Of A Normal Heart Rate

(Pulse Rate)

Your pulse rate is the number of times that your heart beats per minute. Like any other muscle your heart needs constant physical activity to keep it in good condition. A constant, moderate activity level can go a long way to improving your general health and lowering many of the risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases.

 

heart rate

 

A normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute at rest (resting heart rate)

  • to get a more accurate resting heart rate this is best taken just after you wake up and are lying in bed.

 

How To Take Your Pulse

The easiest place to take your pulse is on the wrist (radial pulse) and the side of the neck (carotid pulse).

To take a pulse gently place your fingertips over the appropriate position on your body, when you feel the pulse count the number of beats in 60 seconds – counting the number of beats in 15 seconds and times by 4 is also acceptable.

 

The Wrist (radial pulse)

To find the radial pulse gently place two or three finger tips on your wrist – in line with your index finger just below the thumb.

 

radial pulse

Image source medlineplus.gov

 

The Side Of The Neck (carotid pulse)

To find the carotid pulse gently place two or three finger tips on top of your Adams apple, slide them to one side until you feel the carotid pulse.

 

carotid pulse

Image source nhs.uk/

Factors That Effect Heart Rate

Changes in the pulse rate and regularity are normal signs of aging but may also be signs of a heart condition or some other problem which may need to be taken care of.

 

Many things can affect your heart rate including:

Illness

Conditions such as physical injury, anemia, infection, fever and other conditions may increase your heart rate to meet your bodies higher demands.

Emotional Stress

Stress and anxiety will increase your heart rate to initiate the fight or flight response.

Exercise

Exercise or any physical exertion increases the bodies demand for oxygen. In response to this your heart rate will increase to meet the added demands.

Breathing

As you breathe in the heart rate tends to slow down a little

Medications

All types of medication will have some effect on your heart rate, including herbal remedies and illegal drugs. For example beta blocker medications (blood pressure medicine) and natural herbs like Valerian will slow your heart rate, whilst ephedrine (speed) or cocaine will increase it.

Body Temperature

When the body sends blood to the surface of the skin to help cool you down your heart rate may rise.

Glycogen Levels (blood sugar)

As glycogen stores drop you will lose energy and become fatigued, to counteract this effect your heart rate will increase in order to supply more energy.

Cardiovascular Disease

All of the classic symptoms of heart disease will have an effect on your heart rate; High blood pressure and high cholesterol may increase your heart rate whilst problems with the electrical system of the heart such as bradycardia (slow heart rate) will decrease it.

Dehydration

As we become dehydrated the blood will thicken and waste which is normally expelled may remain within the blood. Your heart rate will increase to help clear the waste and maintain normal cardiac function

 

 When Should I Worry?

 

high heart rate

 

Lower Than Normal Heart Rate

If you have a high fitness level or use beta blocker medications (blood pressure medication) you may have a lower than normal heart rate. This is normal.

A lower than normal heart rate becomes a concern when you are:

  • Tired, weak, fatigued
  • Feeling light headed and/or dizzy
  • Confused
  • Short of breath
  • Having fainting or near fainting spells

If any of these symptoms are present seek medical help immediately

 

Higher Than Normal Heart Rate

In certain circumstances having a higher than normal heart rate is perfectly natural, we know that your resting heart rate increases with age, excitement, emotional stress, illness, exercise and dehydration.

A higher than normal heart rate becomes a concern when you are:

  • Short of breath
  • Are experiencing palpitations (fluttering, rapid or pounding heart)
  • Have extreme fatigue
  • Have activity intolerance

If any of these symptoms are present seek medical help immediately

 

Keeping an eye on your heart rate is vitally important in understanding your health, and very simple to do.


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