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What Does Heart Rate Mean

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Blood pressure and pulse are two measurements that a doctor may use to monitor your heart and overall health. While theyre similar, they can each say very different things about whats happening in your body.

Pulse, also called heart rate, refers to the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Typical pulse measurements range from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Blood pressure is an estimate of the force your blood is exerting on your blood vessels. A typical value for blood pressure is 120/80. Doctors consider blood pressure to be elevated when its between 130 and 139 systolic over 80 to 89 diastolic .

If you have high blood pressure with a low pulse, it means your blood is putting increased pressure on your blood vessels, but your hearts beating fewer than 60 times per minute. Read on to learn more about what this combination means for your health.

Maximum And Target Heart Rate

There is no definitive medical advice on when a resting heart rate is too high, but most medical experts agree that a consistent heart rate in the upper levels can put too much stress on the heart and other organs. If a person has a high heart rate at rest and is experiencing other symptoms, doctors may examine his or her heart function, Bauman said.

Knowing your heart rate during workout sessions can help know whether you are doing too much or not enough, the AHA says. When people exercise in their “target heart zone,” they gain the most benefits and improve their heart’s health. When your heart rate is in the target zone you know “you are pushing the muscle to get stronger,” Bauman said.

A person’s target heart rate zone is between 50 percent and 85 percent of his or her maximum heart rate,;according to the AHA.;

Most commonly, maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. For a 30-year-old person, for example: 220 30 = 190.

The target zone for a 30-year-old person would be between 50 and 85 percent of his or her maximum heart rate:

  • 50 percent: 190 x 0.50 = 95 bpm
  • 85 percent: 190 x 0.85 = 162 bpm

For a 60-year-old person, the target zone would be between 80 and 136 bpm.

You can either manually calculate your heart rate during exercise or use heart rate monitors that wrap around the chest, or are included in sports watches.

However, that’s not to say that exercising without getting the heart rate up to the target zone has no benefit, Bauman said.;

Keep Your Doctor Informed Of Your Resting Heart Rate

This article is not meant to diagnose or treat you. Its intended to help you understand one aspect of your health, your resting heart rate. This article is based on scientific research, but science is continually changing. Thus, this information is subject to change.

Everyone is different and has unique circumstances. Consult with your doctor about any changes in your health, diet, and exercise.

Read my full medical disclaimer here.

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How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate

To check your normal resting heart rate, you can use a heart rate monitor, or use this 10-second pulse count method:

  • Take your pulse at either the base of your thumb on the palm side of your wrist, or the base of your neck on either side of your windpipe.
  • Using two or three fingers, press lightly on your skin until you can feel your blood moving underneath.
  • Count the beats for 10 seconds, then multiply that number by six.

How Slow Is Too Slow

What does it mean when you have a low heart rate?

Doctors consider a;heart rate below 60 beats per minute as low, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.

If you have bradycardia, youll have a sustained heart rate below 60 even when youre awake and active. A normal range is from 60 to 100 beats-per-minute while awake. The heart rate can also slow down normally while we are asleep to 40 to 60 beats a minute.

Read Also: How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate

Understanding Your Target Heart Rate

Nearly all exercise is good. But to be sure youre getting the most fromyour workout yet staying at a level thats safe for you, you can monitorhow hard your heart is working.

Aiming for whats called a target heart rate can help you do this, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist;Seth Martin, M.D., M.P.H.;Think of it as the sweet spot between not exercising hard enough and overexerting.

What Is Your Target Zone

Target Heart Rate Zones by Age *

  • Age: 20
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : ** 120 170
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 200
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 117 166
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 195
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 114 162
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 190
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : ** 111 157
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 185
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 108 153
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 180
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 105 149
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 175
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 102 145
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 170
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 99 140
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 165
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 96 136
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 160
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 93 132
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 155
  • Target Heart Rate Zone : 90 123
  • Predicted Maximum HR: 150
  • Your Actual Values

    • Target HR

    * This chart is based on the formula: 220 – your age = predicted maximum heart rate.

    Also Check: What Causes Heart Rate To Spike

    What Happens When I Receive A Heart

    When your Fitbit device detects your heart rate goes above or below your personal heart rate threshold while youre inactive, you receive a notification on your Fitbit device. Tap Open, and then tap the notification in the Fitbit app to learn more about your data and complete a survey where you log any potential factors, medications, and symptoms. You can use the info you log in the survey to track your heart health trends and share it with your healthcare provider.

    What Is Target Heart Rate

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    Your target heart rate is a range of numbers that reflect how fast your heart should be beating when you exercise. A higher heart rate is a good thing that leads to greater fitness, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist;Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H.;During exercise, you can monitor heart rate and try to reach this target zone. Doctors also use target heart rate to interpret the results of a cardiac stress test.

    What Your Heart Rate Is Telling You

    Your pulse, both at rest and during exercise, can reveal your risk for heart attack and your aerobic capacity.

    Your grandmother may have referred to your heart as “your ticker,” but that nickname has proved to be a misnomer. A healthy heart doesn’t beat with the regularity of clockwork. It speeds up and slows down to accommodate your changing need for oxygen as your activities vary throughout the day. What is a “normal” heart rate varies from person to person. However, an unusually high resting heart rate or low maximum heart rate may signify an increased risk of heart attack and death.

    One simple thing people can do is to check their resting heart rate. It’s a fairly easy to do and having the information can help down the road. It’s a good idea to take your pulse occasionally to get a sense of what’s normal for you and to identify unusual changes in rate or regularity that may warrant medical attention.

    What Is Your Heart Rate

    YourÂ;heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times yourÂ;heartÂ;beats in 1 minute. Heart rates vary from person to person. Itâs lower when youâre at rest and higher when youÂ;exercise.

    Knowing how to find your pulse can help you figure out your bestÂ;exercise program. If youâre taking heartÂ;medications, recording your pulse daily and reporting the results to your doctor can help them learn whether your treatment is working.

    Blood pressure vs. heart rate

    Your heart rate is separate from your blood pressure. Thatâs the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels.

    A faster pulse doesnât necessarily mean higher blood pressure. When your heart speeds up, like when you exercise, your blood vessels should expand to let more blood pass through.

    When To Call Your Doctor

    If youre on a beta blocker to;decrease your heart rate or to control an abnormal rhythm , your doctor may ask you to monitor and log your heart rate. Keeping tabs on your heart rate can help your doctor determine whether to change the dosage or switch to a different medication.

    If your pulse is very low or if you have frequent episodes of unexplained fast heart rates, especially if they cause you to feel weak or dizzy or faint, tell your doctor, who can decide if its an emergency. Your pulse is one tool to help get a picture of your health.

    Learn more:

    What Is A Normal Heart Rate

    A High Heart Rate

    ByBahar Gholipour12 January 2018

    Heart rate, also known as pulse, is the number of times a person’s heart beats per minute. Normal heart rate varies from person to person, but a normal range for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    However, a normal heart rate depends on the individual, age, body size, heart conditions, whether the person is sitting or moving, medication use and even air temperature. Emotions can affect heart rate; for example, getting excited or scared can increase the heart rate.

    Most importantly, getting fitter lowers the heart rate, by making heart muscles work more efficiently. A well-trained athlete may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60 beats per minute, according to the;American Heart Association;.

    “Your heart is a muscle and just like strengthening other muscles by doing activities, you can do the same thing with your heart,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, an internist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

    Knowledge about your heart rate can help you monitor your fitness level, and it may help you spot developing health problems if you are experiencing other symptoms.

    Target Heart Rates During Exercise

    The heart rate increases during exercise.

    When training for fitness, it is important not to put too much strain on the heart. However, an individual needs the heart rate to increase while exercising to provide more oxygen and energy for the rest of the body.

    While the heart rate increases as a result of physical activity, an overall decrease in target heart rate is possible over time. This means that the heart is working less to get the necessary nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body, making it more efficient.

    Cardiovascular training aims to reduce the target heart rate. The ideal target heart rate reduces with age. It is also worth noting the maximum heart rate. This demonstrates the full capability of the heart, and it is normally reached through high-intensity exercise.

    The American Heart Association states that the maximum heart rate during exercise should be roughly equal to 220 bpm minus the age of the person.

    As the body of each individual will react to exercise differently, the target heart rate is presented as a range known as the target heart rate zone.

    The following table shows the appropriate target heart rate zone for a range of ages. A persons heart rate should fall within this range when exercising at 50 to 80 percent intensity, also known as exertion.

    Age

    When I See A Patient With A Low Heart Rate I Ask Myself The Following

    Is the low heart rate a physiologic finding or a pathologic finding? An example of a physiologic low heart rate would be an athlete with a low resting heart rate from being trained, which is absolutely fine. An example of a pathologic heart rate would be a disorder of the internal pacemaker system of the heart such as heart block that would often need a pacemaker inserted as treatment.

    Is the low heart rate the likely cause of symptoms? Symptoms of a low heart rate may include dizziness and fatigue. In order to be attributed to a low heart rate the symptoms should occur at the same time the heart rate is low.

    Are there any reversible causes for the low heart rate? Medicines such as beta-blockers or disorders such as hypothyroidism may lead to low heart rate and if the heart rate is dangerously low and causing symptoms as a result of this, stopping the medication or treating the underlying conditions will likely reverse the symptoms.

    What Factors Can Affect Resting Heart Rate

    Several factors can affect resting heart rate: stress, alcohol or caffeine intake, or fever usually raise resting heart rate, while regular exercise or meditation can lower it. Air temperature and certain medications can also affect resting heart rate.

    Heart-rate zones, which are percentages of your maximum heart rate, can help you determine the intensity of your workout or activity.

    How To Find Your Target Heart Rate

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    First, it helps to know your resting heart rate, Martin says. Find your pulse . Then count the number of beats in a minutethats your resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100, he says. The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate; for very fit people, its in the range of 40 to 50 beats per minute.

    Target heart rate is generally expressed as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum rate is based on your age, as subtracted from 220. So for a 50-year-old, maximum heart rate is 220 minus 50, or 170 beats per minute. At a 50 percent exertion level, your target would be 50 percent of that maximum, or 85 beats per minute. At an 85 percent level of exertion, your target would be 145 beats per minute. Therefore, the target heart rate that a 50-year-old would want to aim for during exercise is 85 to 145 beats per minute.

    But theres an easier way to figure it out if you want to skip the math: Wear a fitness tracking device, or exercise on a treadmill or other machine that calculates target heart rate for you, Blaha suggests.

    What Are Heart Palpitations

    A heart palpitation is when you suddenly become aware of your heart beating, usually in an irregular way. Sometimes you can feel it in your ears or your chest when youre lying down. Your heart beat may feel:

    • too fast or slow
    • like its fluttering
    • like its thudding, or pounding.

    It is not unusual to feel heart palpitations occasionally and mostly they are harmless. However if youre experiencing them on a regular basis, see your doctor.

    The Conduction System Of The Heart

    The heart has its own natural pacemaker made up of a specialized collection of cells in the top chamber of the heart known as the SA node. This generates an impulse that travels through another collection of cells in the middle of the heart known as the AV node. The pathways taken by the impulses are known as the conduction system.

    Problems with a low heart rate can be caused by dysfunction of the SA node, the AV node or the conduction system! It gets even more complex. The conduction system of the heart has many nerves attached to it; some of these nerves decrease the rate of conduction whereas others increase the rate of conduction. The nerves that decrease the rate of conduction and therefore lower heart rate are known as parasympathetic nerves. An example is when someone vomits; this can increase impulses in the parasympathetic nerves and slow the heart rate significantly for a while. This can even lead to passing out, which is known as a vagal event.

    A balance of impulse from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves determine a persons baseline heart rate. Interestingly, in experiments where a persons nerve supply is blocked, the heart rate is often higher; this would suggest that the parasympathetic nerve impulses that serve to slow the heart rate down are the predominant force under normal resting conditions. This is particularly evident at night when most people have a significant drop in heart rate.

    How Will You Spend Your Heartbeats

    • Your resting heart rate appears to determine how long you live. And the things you do to lower your resting heart rate are good for your overall health.
    • Theres at least one risk factor of having a very low RHR, but there seems to be a higher risk of overall disease at higher heart rates.
    • Stress, physical or emotional, seems to be the most important factor in determining your heart rate.
    • Exercise allows your body to adapt to stressful situations better. Additionally, it will enable your body to reach a deeper relaxed state as your heart muscle becomes stronger and your circulation becomes more efficient.
    • How do you compare with your age group? I am in the athlete range, but I exercise regularly.
    • If youre going to exercise, build up slowly so your body can adapt.
    • I find the simplest exercises are the most effective. Theyre the ones you can do at home every day without going to the gym.
    • High-intensity interval training is one of the quickest and most effective workouts for resting heart rate, HRV, muscle building, and weight loss. Why not give it a try?
    • You have a maximum number of lifetime heartbeats, use them well.

    What Your Resting Heart Rate Says About You

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    If you want to know more about your cardiovascular health, weve got one big question for you: Do you know what your resting heart rate is?;

    Your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health and while some of what it says may seem scary at first, dont worry! There are ways to improve your cardiovascular health. At Tri-City Medical Center, we see patients with high resting heart rates lower theirs to healthier levels all the time.

    Heres a little background on just what your heart might be trying to tell you.

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