Why Is Measuring Your Resting Heart Rate Important
As a rule of thumb, lower is usually better when it comes to resting heart rate. All things being well, this should point to a strong and healthy heart function that doesnt have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat.
However, when considered alongside other risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, measuring your resting heart rate can provide a window into your current well-being, while also identifying potential health issues.;
Case in point: A Danish study, published in 2013, followed 2,798 men over the course of 16 years, tracking heart health and cardiovascular fitness. The study found that a high resting heart rate was linked with high body weight, higher blood pressure, and lower physical fitness.
It also discovered that a higher resting heart rate was a significant predictor of mortality. When compared to subjects with an RHR of 50 bpm and under, a persons chances of a premature death doubled with a resting heart rate of 81 to 90 bpm, and tripled if higher than 90 bpm.;
Meanwhile, a low resting heart rate isnt always a sign of peak physical fitness. If its accompanied by dizzy spells, fainting, or fatigue, you should speak with your GP or healthcare provider.
How To Lower Heart Rate
If your heart rate is too high there are ways to lower it safely. Your heart rate could be high after exercising or because youre feeling stressed or anxious.;
Here are some fast-acting methods that can help lower a fast heart rate:
- Breathing exercises: You can use your breathing to raise the aortic pressure in your heart, which will lower your heart rate. To do this, close your mouth and nose and raise the pressure in your chest. Breathe in for five to eight seconds, hold it for three to five seconds, and then exhale slowly. This can be repeated several times.;
- Taking a bath: This can help relax you and bring your heart rate down.;
- Light yoga: Calming yoga or meditation can help relax you and bring a high heart rate down.
- Moving to a cooler location: If your heart rate is raised because youre too hot, moving to a cooler location will help bring it down.;
Here are some long-term solutions that can help you achieve a healthy heart rate:;
- Exercising regularly: Starting and keeping an exercise program will help decrease resting heart rates over time.
- Eating healthy:Healthy diets that contain whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids are great for supporting long term heart health and will help keep heart disease at bay.
- Quitting smoking:Non-smokers have a lowered risk of recurrent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
- Staying hydrated:Drinking enough water allows the heart to pump blood more easily throughout the body.;;
What Are The Best Places To Check Pulse
The best places to check your heart rate are your wrist, the side of your neck, the inside of your elbow, and the top of your foot .
How to Check Your Pulse Video
Watch Emily Reeve, the Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, show you how to check your pulse.
Heart Rate Monitors
You can track your heart rate with a wrist monitor like the popular LETSCOM Fitness Tracker .
Or, check out this detailed review of heart rate monitors to help you find the right one for you.
Heart rate monitors make it easier to track your heart rate consistently and learn which activities raise or lower your pulse the most.
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Adjusting Your Activity Level
Once youve determined your ideal heart rate for exercise, its important to use this information to help keep the intensity level of your workouts in check.
Slow down your pace and effort level if your heart rate during activity is higher than it should be based on your doctors instructions and the guidelines above. If its lower that it should be, work harder to ensure that youre getting the benefits of the exercise.
Start slowly during the first few weeks of working out, aiming for the lower end of your target zone. You can then build up gradually to the higher end of your target zone.
With a little practice and guidance from your healthcare team, youll soon be able to make the most of your exercise routine by measuring your ideal heart rate.
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What To Expect At The Doctors
Your doctor may use a variety of diagnostic tools to help diagnose your condition, including:
- Electrocardiogram. Also referred to as an ECG or EKG, this diagnostic tool uses small electrodes to record the electrical activity of your heart. Your doctor can use the information collected to determine if heart abnormalities are contributing to your condition.
- Imaging tests. Imaging can be used to assess if there are any structural abnormalities in your heart that may be contributing to your condition. Possible imaging tests can include echocardiogram, CT scan, and MRI scan.
- Laboratory tests. Your doctor may order blood tests to determine if your condition is caused by something such as an electrolyte imbalance or thyroid disease.
Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan to treat and manage your condition.
Depending on the findings from the diagnostic tests, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist. A cardiologist specializes in treating and preventing diseases of the heart and circulatory system.
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What Is An Irregular Pulse
An irregular pulse is when the heart doesn’t beat in a regular, steady rhythm. This is also called an irregular heart rate or an arrhythmia.
If your heart rate is irregular, you may notice that your pulse:
- seems irregular or is ‘jumping around’
- is racing, even when you’re at rest
- seems unusually slow some or most of the time.
What Your Resting Heart Rate Says About You
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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What Is Your Target Zone
Target Heart Rate Zones by Age *
- Age: 20
- Target Heart Rate Zone : ** 120 170
- Predicted Maximum HR: 200
Your Actual Values
- Target HR
* This chart is based on the formula: 220 – your age = predicted maximum heart rate.
Legs Up The Wall To Reduce Resting Heart Rate
The legs up the wall pose is a therapeutic yoga pose that helps your body and mind relax. To do the Viparita Karani pose:
Try to stay in this pose for 5 minutes. It doesnt need to be perfect. Even having your legs above your heart works if youre relaxed.
Viparita Karani improves circulation as gravity helps blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Because your heart doesnt need to work as hard, your heart rate lowers.
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Lowering A Rapid Heart Rate
Pulse rates can spike due to nervousness, stress, dehydration and overexertion. Sitting down and taking slow, deep breaths can generally lower your heart rate. Exercising and getting fitter will usually lower heart rate, too.
Cooling down after a workout is important, according to the AHA. Because your heart is beating faster, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated, stopping too fast could make you feel sick or even pass out.
The AHA recommends stretching and walking. Stretching helps reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which cause cramps and stiff muscles. Follow these tips:
- Walk for about 5 minutes, or until your heart rate gets below 120 beats per minute.
- Stretch, and hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds. If you feel you need more, stretch the other side and return for another set of stretching.
- The stretch should be strong, but not painful.
- Do not bounce.
- Breathe while youre stretching. Exhale as you stretch, inhale while holding the stretch.
How Do I Check My Resting Heart Rate
To check your heart rate:
- Sit down and rest for 5 minutes.
- Turn your wrist so your palm is facing up.
- Feel for a pulse at thumb side of your wrist.
- Once you feel it, count how many times you feel a beat in 30 seconds. Then double it.
If you cant find your pulse at your wrist, put 2 fingers on the side of your neck, next to the windpipe.
If you still cant find a pulse, ask someone else to feel it for you.
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Which Factors Can Influence Heart Rate
Many things can affect your heart rate, including:
- physical activity if youve been moving around a lot, your heart rate will increase
- fitness level your resting heart rate may be lower if youre very fit
- air temperature on hot days, your heart needs to pump more quickly
- emotions such as feeling stressed or overly excited
- medicines some can decrease your resting heart rate , while others can increase it
- age with age, the rate and regularity of your pulse can change and can be a sign of a heart problem.
Lowering Your Heart Rate
There are several ways you can do this to help your heart stay healthy:
Exercise. Physical activity strengths your heart just like other muscles in your body. It trains your heart to be more efficient so it doesnât work as hard when youâre at rest. A walk, bicycle ride, or yoga class can all help.
Quit smoking.Smoking causes your arteries and veins to get smaller. This can lead to a higher heart rate. Nixing tobacco products can bring your pulse down to a healthier level.
Relax.Stress can send hormones like adrenaline and cortisol racing through your blood, which can raise your heart rate. Things like meditation and yoga can help lower stress levels. Over the long term, they can lower your resting heart rate, too.
Eat more fish. A healthy diet is the cornerstone of heart health. In addition to fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, add fish to your menu. Eating it regularly can help lower your heart rate.
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What Is Maximum Heart Rate
The maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate achieved during maximal exercise. One simple method to calculate your predicted maximum heart rate, uses this formula:
220 – your age = predicted maximum heart rate
Example: a 40-year-old’s predicted maximum heart rate is 180 beats/minute.
There are other formulas that take into account the variations in maximal heart rate with age and gender. If you are interested in learning more about these more accurate but slightly more complicated formulas please see these resources:
- Gellish RL, Goslin BR, Olson RE, McDonald A, Russi GD, Moudgil VK. Longitudinal modeling of the relationship between age and maximal heart rate. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 May;39:822-9. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17468581
- Gulati M, Shaw LJ, Thisted RA, Black HR, Bairey Merz CN, Arnsdorf MF. Heart rate response to exercise stress testing in asymptomatic women: the st. James women take heart project. Circulation. 2010 Jul 13;122:130-7. Epub 2010 Jun 28. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20585008
Your actual maximum heart rate is most accurately determined by a medically supervised maximal graded exercise test.
Please note that some medications and medical conditions may affect your heart rate. If you are taking medications or have a medical condition , always ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate/target heart rate will be affected. If so, your heart rate ranges for exercise should be prescribed by your doctor or an exercise specialist.
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Why Does A Good Resting Heart Rate Matter
It’s important to know what heart rate is healthy and normal at every age in your life. Your heart rate, or pulse, can guide you to discover dangerous health conditions that need expert care, such as some heart problems. But your normal resting heart rate changes throughout your life as you age. Read this guide to learn more about your pulse through every step of your life.
Clinical Contributors To This Story
Sarah L. Timmapuri, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health, Exercise / Fitness.
If your heart is racing as youre sitting reading this article, its possible your body is trying to tell you something. A high resting heart rate, or a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, means your heart is working extra hard to pump blood through your body. And, that extra effort could result in a wide range of negative effects on your overall health, including feelings of dizziness and fatigue and most seriously blood clots, heart failure and, in rare cases, sudden death.
Normal resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and its simple to check how fast yours is beating. While idle, hold your pointer and middle finger between your bone and tendon on the thumb side on your wrist until you feel your pulse, and count the number of beats for a minute that is your resting heart rate.
Certain aspects of someones resting heart rate are directly connected to uncontrollable factors, such as age and genetics, however there are certain actions that be taken to help decrease heart rate and improve overall wellbeing for those whose resting heart rate is above normal.
Here are six proven ways to lower your resting heart rate:
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Ideal Heart Rate For Exercise
After youve gotten the hang of heart rate measurement, you can begin to calculate and monitor your target exercising heart rate.
If youre using the manual method of heart rate measurement, youll need to stop exercising briefly to take your pulse.
If youre using a heart rate monitor, you can continue your workout while keeping an eye on your monitor.
Your doctor can help determine the best target heart rate for you, or you can use general target zone guidelines to determine your target exercise heart rate based on your age.
According to the AHA, moderate-intensity workouts should be closer to the lower end of the target heart rate range that correlates with your age. Within the higher end of the range is the target heart rate for high-intensity, vigorous workouts.
The target heart rate zones noted below are based on what is equal to 50 to 85 percent of the average maximum heart rate for each stated age, and the average maximum heart rate is based on the calculation of 220 minus years of age.
Please be aware that the American Heart Association states that these figures are averages to be used as a general guide. If you feel this guide doesnt fit your personal exercise heart rate target for moderate or vigorous exercise, your doctor will be able to work with you on an individual basis to help determine the target heart rate range that is best for you.
|Target heart rate zone|
|75 to 128 beats per minute||150 beats per minute|