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How Is Heart Rate Measured

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Pulse Rate For Women And Men

8 Measuring the heart rate

Compared to men, women on average have an anatomically smaller heart. The structure and mode of action of the heart do not differ. The smaller size of the female heart means that less blood and therefore less oxygen is pumped through the circulatory system during a heartbeat. During physical exertion, this means that the female heart generally has to compensate for the increased oxygen demand of organs and muscles by beating faster. In addition to the smaller heart size and weight, women also have a smaller heart volume, stroke volume and cardiac output compared to men.

Table: Differences in cardiovascular parameters between women and men.37

Cardiovascular parameters
60 bpm

Influences From The Central Nervous System

Cardiovascular centres

The heart rate is rhythmically generated by the sinoatrial node. It is also influenced by central factors through sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. Nervous influence over the heart rate is centralized within the two paired cardiovascular centres of the medulla oblongata. The cardioaccelerator regions stimulate activity via sympathetic stimulation of the cardioaccelerator nerves, and the cardioinhibitory centers decrease heart activity via parasympathetic stimulation as one component of the vagus nerve. During rest, both centers provide slight stimulation to the heart, contributing to autonomic tone. This is a similar concept to tone in skeletal muscles. Normally, vagal stimulation predominates as, left unregulated, the SA node would initiate a sinus rhythm of approximately 100 bpm.

Norepinephrine binds to the beta1 receptor. High blood pressure medications are used to block these receptors and so reduce the heart rate.

Input to the cardiovascular centres

Increased metabolic byproducts associated with increased activity, such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen ions, and lactic acid, plus falling oxygen levels, are detected by a suite of chemoreceptors innervated by the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves. These chemoreceptors provide feedback to the cardiovascular centers about the need for increased or decreased blood flow, based on the relative levels of these substances.

What Is A Heart Rate

As stated by the American Heart Association, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. This tireless organ pumps 70 milliliters of blood with each heartbeat, about 5 liters in 60 seconds. To do this, your muscles need to contract and relax rhythmically.

On a physical level, its cyclical. This means that it is repeated in a specific amount of time. Although a normal heart rate doesnt ensure that youre disease-free, its a useful parameter to identify a wide variety of disorders.

According to the World Health Organization , ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world in high-income countries, far above cancers and other types of disease. It accounts for 47% of all deaths, and in the United States, about 647,000 Americans die from it annually.

Without a doubt, paying attention to the heart can save lives!

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What Is A Good Resting Heart Rate

Well, thats the tricky part done youve provided the heart rate calculator with all of the information that it needs, and now youre ready to reap the rewards. First up is a quick analysis of your resting heart rate. We know that a lot of people want to answer the question What is a good resting heart rate?, which is what we aim to do here. The general rule is that, the lower your heart rate, the better. This is because your heart is stronger and needs fewer beats to push the same amount of blood around your body.

Take this measurement with a pinch of salt though! While it generally holds that the lower your heart rate, the better, recent studies suggest that there is enormous variability in the average resting heart rate from person to person. This means that you shouldnt worry too much if you are far from the average resting heart rate of 65.6 ±7.7 bpm, as long as youre living a healthy life, full of exercise, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and enough sleep.

This doesnt mean there arent resting heart rates to worry about. The healthy range is 60 100 bpm. If you are above this range and havent done any exercise in an hour or recently taken any drugs or medicine, like alcohol and nicotine, consult a doctor immediately. The same is true if your heart rate is below 60 bpm, except if you lead a very athletic lifestyle. Repeat the measurements first, as errors can be made. Our calculator will tell you this automatically.

How To Measure And Understand Heart Rate

How to measure heart rate

Most people have heard about monitoring their heart rate the speed at which your heart beats for exercising safely and effectively. However, they dont always understand how to measure heart rate or why heart rate measurement is so important.

They are aware that exercise raises the heart rate, but have no real idea about just how much that increase should be. What should your hrv heart rate variability be? How often should your heart rate be elevated? How much should you exercise, for how long, and what will it do to your blood pressure?

To learn what heart rate is optimum for your goals, you must first understand what is heart rate and how it relates to exercise. You should also learn the different methods for accurately identifying your target heart rate.

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Best Devices For Measuring Heart Rate

The Apple Watch measures your heart rate throughout the day.

So now you know all the different kinds of heart rate and how to measure them using clocks and math. Even though the traditional methods aren’t all that hard, there are easier — and potentially more accurate — ways to measure and track your heart rate.

The most accurate readings will come from a lab test or other clinical method. But since most people don’t have access to and don’t need those methods, these devices will work just fine.

Heart Rate Measurement Methods

There are numerous ways you can measure your heart rate with varying levels of accuracy. When determining how to measure heart rate most effectively, consider your goals, budget, and what will work for your method of use. Here are some of the ways to measure heart rate:

An easy way to calculate your heart rate is to use a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor is a device that can detect your heartbeat, count the beats per minute and then display it for you. Heart rate monitors can continuously track and display your heart rate as you perform various activities or exercises.

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Is My Heart Rate Variability Something That Should Make Me Worry

In general, an abnormal heart rate variability isnt something that will cause a medical emergency, but it can be a sign of current health problems or issues down the road. Its also important to remember that most consumer-level devices that track heart rate variability are not as sensitive as an EKG.

Its important to keep in mind that your heart rhythm is incredibly complex. While you can find devices and apps that track your heart rate variability, a healthcare provider is the most qualified to look at your heart rate and advise you on what you can and should do about it.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/01/2021.

References

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

What Is Body Temperature

How to: Measure Resting Heart Rate

The normal body temperature of a person varies depending on gender, recent activity, food and fluid consumption, time of day, and, in women, the stage of the menstrual cycle. Normal body temperature can range from 97.8 degrees F to 99 degrees F for a healthy adult. A person’s body temperature can be taken in any of the following ways:

  • Orally. Temperature can be taken by mouth using either the classic glass thermometer, or the more modern digital thermometers that use an electronic probe to measure body temperature.

  • Rectally. Temperatures taken rectally tend to be 0.5 to 0.7 degrees F higher than when taken by mouth.

  • Axillary. Temperatures can be taken under the arm using a glass or digital thermometer. Temperatures taken by this route tend to be 0.3 to 0.4 degrees F lower than those temperatures taken by mouth.

  • A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the ear drum, which reflects the body’s core temperature .

  • A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the skin on the forehead.

Body temperature may be abnormal due to fever or hypothermia . A fever is indicated when body temperature rises about one degree or more over the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Pulse Rate And Environment: Humidity And Altitude

At high humidity , the bodys thermoregulation is impaired because the evaporation of sweat decreases and it remains longer on the skin surface. To accelerate the slowed cooling process of the skin, the heart rate increases.35

Altitude also has an effect on heart rate: The lower air pressure ensures that the body can absorb less oxygen. To compensate for this effect, the breathing rate increases and thus also the heart rate .36

When To See A Healthcare Provider

You should see a healthcare provider if your heart rate falls outside of the recommended range, either lower than 60 beats per minute or higher than 100 beats per minute. These are possible signs that your heart is not functioning properly, especially if your heart rate is on the higher end. You may need to make certain lifestyle changes, take medication, or have a surgical procedure to help your heart function better.

Extreme fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or fainting are signs of a medical emergency. Warning signs of a heart attack that can result from an abnormal heart rate include sudden chest pain or pressure, radiating pain down the left arm and into the upper back or to the jaw, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

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Change In Pulse Rate Due To Stress And Other Emotions

In states of stress, the sympathetic nervous system is particularly active . In addition, catecholamines, a complex of hormones with an activating effect, are released. These cause the vessels in the muscles and other organs to dilate and the peripheral vessels to constrict. As a result, the heart rate increases. Emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, surprise, joy, excitement or nervousness can also lead to an increase in heart rate.51

What Is The Respiration Rate

Heart Rate app measured my pulse! Check yours here

The respiration rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute. The rate is usually measured when a person is at rest and simply involves counting the number of breaths for one minute by counting how many times the chest rises. Respiration rates may increase with fever, illness, and other medical conditions. When checking respiration, it is important to also note whether a person has any difficulty breathing.

Normal respiration rates for an adult person at rest range from 12 to 16 breaths per minute.

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What Is Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls during contraction and relaxation of the heart. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries, resulting in the highest blood pressure as the heart contracts. When the heart relaxes, the blood pressure falls.

Two numbers are recorded when measuring blood pressure. The higher number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The lower number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood. Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as “mm Hg” . This recording represents how high the mercury column in an old-fashioned manual blood pressure device is raised by the pressure of the blood. Today, your doctor’s office is more likely to use a simple dial for this measurement.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, directly increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood.

Blood pressure is categorized as normal, elevated, or stage 1 or stage 2 high blood pressure:

How Apple Watch Measures Your Heart Rate

The optical heart sensor in Apple Watch uses what is known as photoplethysmography. This technology, while difficult to pronounce, is based on a very simple fact: Blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with lightsensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. When your heart beats, the blood flow in your wrist and the green light absorption is greater. Between beats, its less. By flashing its LED lights hundreds of times per second, Apple Watch can calculate the number of times the heart beats each minute your heart rate. The optical heart sensor supports a range of 30210 beats per minute. In addition, the optical heart sensor is designed to compensate for low signal levels by increasing both LED brightness and sampling rate.

The optical heart sensor can also use infrared light. This mode is what Apple Watch uses when it measures your heart rate in the background, and for heart rate notifications. Apple Watch uses green LED lights to measure your heart rate during workouts and Breathe sessions, and to calculate walking average and Heart Rate Variability .

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How To Measure Your Rhr

Its important to take your heart rate while you are at rest. Dont measure it within one hour of exercise or a stressful event. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, its best to measure your RHR first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed.

While there are a variety of tools and apps to measure your RHR, all you really need is a timer. Heres how:

  • With your palm facing up, place your index and middle finger on the thumb side of your wrist, along the line where a watch band would be worn. You should feel a pulse. You can also find a pulse along the side of your neck about 1-2 inches below your ear.
  • Set your timer for 30 seconds, then count the number of beats you feel during that window.
  • Double the number of beats to get the number of beats per minute, which is your RHR.

For best results make sure you really are at rest before you begin. Then, it’s a good idea to repeat the process once or twice to make sure its consistent.

Physiological And Perceptual Response Changes

Measuring resting heart rate

As described earlier, the gold standard for exercise testing responses of cardiac patients is the use of both cardio and respiratory measures during an incremental peak/maximal test, e.g. the Bruce protocol . The use of expired gas analysis is rare in the UK except in specialist centres of research.

The four measures available, typically taken and recommended in the UK during early discharge or outpatient cardiology clinics, are the ECG , blood pressure, estimated METs and RPE. With modern technology of wireless chest-strap telemetry heart rate monitors, it is very practicable to measure heart rate within a cardiac rehabilitation setting along with RPE. Therefore if the rehabilitation gym has a treadmill, then submaximal components of the Bruce or modified Bruce protocol can be repeated as a means of measuring improvement against initial clinical testing results taken previously for purposes of diagnosis and prognosis.

Example 1

For patients who have attained two stages of the Bruce protocol, and no problems occurred during stage 1, it would be possible to reassess a patient’s heart rate and RPE during stage 1 on the treadmill in the gym and compare this to the original stress test. This requires the biomedical engineering department to ensure that the cardiology treadmill and the gym treadmill have been calibrated with each other.

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Jason Matthew Harley, in, 2016

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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

You should call your healthcare provider if you notice that your heart rate is unusually fast or slow. For adults, that means slower than 60 beats per minute or faster than 100 beats per minute while youre resting .

You should also call your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of an irregular heart rhythm , especially heart palpitations. This symptom is the ability to feel your heart beating without trying, and its usually an unpleasant feeling. It can also feel like your heart is pounding, flip-flopping or skipping beats.

When to go to the hospital

You should go to the hospital if you have any symptoms of a heart attack or other serious heart problem. Those include the symptoms of arrhythmias, heart palpitations, or the following:

Influence Of Sweating And Dehydration On Pulse Rate

Excessive sweating and/or low fluid intake makes the blood thicker. The blood volume decreases, making it more difficult for the heart to transport the blood through the body. To compensate for this effect, the heart rate increases. In the case of dehydration, not only the pulse rate increases, but at the same time the blood pressure also decreases.3334

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