Why The Test Is Performed
Measuring the pulse gives important information about your health. Any change from your normal heart rate can indicate a health problem. Fast pulse may signal an infection or dehydration. In emergency situations, the pulse rate can help determine if the person’s heart is pumping.
Pulse measurement has other uses as well. During or immediately after exercise, the pulse rate gives information about your fitness level and health.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Arrhythmia
Arrhythmias make the heart beat less effectively, interrupting blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. When the heart beats too fast, its chambers can’t fill with enough blood. When it beats too slowly or irregularly, it can’t pump enough blood out to the body.
If the body doesn’t get the supply of blood it needs to run smoothly, a person might have:
- chest pain
Arrhythmias can be constant, but most come and go at random. Some cause no detectable symptoms at all. In these cases, the arrhythmia is only found during a physical examination or a heart function test.
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 A Dangerous Resting Heart Rate
A resting heart rate can be dangerous if its too fast, tachycardia, or too slow, bradycardia. Tachycardia is generally over 100 bpm and bradycardia is generally below 60 bpm . A resting heart rate that is too fast or too slow could be the result of a more serious underlying health problem.
What Is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is a resting heart rate that is too fast . It can be caused by congenital heart disease, poor circulation, anemia, hypertension, or injury to the heart, such as a heart attack . Tachycardia is also associated with a shorter life expectancy .
What Is Bradycardia?
Bradycardia is a slow resting heart rate . It can be caused by hypotension, congenital heart disease, damage to the heart , chronic inflammation, or myocarditis .
If you have a resting heart rate that is too high or too low for an extended period of time, it can cause dangerous health conditions such as heart failure, blood clots, fainting, and sudden cardiac arrest.
if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm or below 60 bpm , you should see your doctor or medical provider. Additionally, you should watch for symptoms such as fainting, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy or light-headed, chest pain, or feeling discomfort or fluttering in your chest.
Factors That Affect Resting Heart Rate
When measuring your RHR, keep in mind that there are a number of things that can affect your reading, including:
- Age: RHR can decrease with age, according to some studies.
- Gender: On average, women’s RHR tends to be two to seven beats per minute higher than men’s.
- Air temperature: RHR can increase during hot weather, but usually not more than 10 bpm.
- Emotions: Strong feelings of stress, anxiety, or even happiness can raise your RHR.
- Body position: RHR can be 3 bpm higher when sitting versus lying down. Similarly, RHR tends to increase a bit upon standing.
- Medication: Prescription drugs like antidepressants and beta blockers can cause your RHR to be higher or lower than it would if you weren’t taking the medication.
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What Causes An Arrhythmia
A unique electrical conduction system in the heart causes it to beat in its regular rhythm.
The electrical signals start from a group of cells called the sinus node, located in the right atrium. The sinus node acts as the heart’s pacemaker and makes sure the heart is beating at a normal and consistent rate. The sinus node normally speeds up the heart rate in response to things like exercise, emotions, and stress, and slows the heart rate during sleep.
But sometimes the electrical signals don’t “communicate” properly with the heart muscle, and the heart can start beating in an abnormal rhythm this is an arrhythmia .
Arrhythmias also can be due to chemical imbalances in the blood infections diseases that irritate the heart medicines injuries to the heart from chest trauma or heart surgery use of illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco caffeine and stress.
Arrhythmias can be temporary or permanent. An arrhythmia can be congenital or happen later.
What Is A Healthy Resting Heart Rate For An Adult
A normal resting heart rate for adults lies somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute , and varies based on age group and gender. Women’s heart rates are about 2-7 BPM faster than men’s on average.
Generally speaking, you want to keep your resting heart rate as low as possible. One large, long-term study compared men with heart rates above 90 and those below 80. The men with higher average heart rates were associated with triple the risk of death.
People with lower heart rates tend to be more active and get more exercise than others. A young, highly-trained athlete’s healthy resting heart rate may be as low as 40 BPM.
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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.
Exercise Recovery And Overtraining
Athletes sometimes monitor their RHR to help them determine when they have fully recovered from a hard workout or race. Since they already know their usual RHR, they can monitor it and see when it returns to normal .
A resting heart rate that is 5 bpm above your usual RHR indicates that you may need more recovery time.
A high resting heart rate is a sign of overtraining. Your resting heart rate may be elevated for one or more days after a vigorous endurance workout, such as running a 10K race or walking a half-marathon. You may want to delay another hard workout until your resting heart rate has returned to its usual value.
Fitness monitors and apps that record resting heart rate daily can use that data to give you a notification when you are ready for another hard workout. If you aren’t fully recovered, the app might recommend a light intensity workout instead.
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When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are More Serious
Irregular heartbeats change the amount of blood that flows to the lungs and other parts of the body. The amount of blood that the heart pumps may be decreased when the heart pumps too slow or too fast.
Changes such as atrial fibrillation that start in the upper chambers of the heart can be serious, because they increase your risk of forming blood clots in your heart. This in turn can increase your risk for having a stroke or a blood clot in your lungs . People who have heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart attack should be more concerned with any changes in their usual heart rhythm or rate.
Fast heart rhythms that begin in the lower chambers of the heart are called ventricular arrhythmias. They include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These types of heart rhythms make it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to the brain or the rest of the body and can be life-threatening. Ventricular arrhythmias may be caused by heart disease such as heart valve problems, impaired blood flow to the heart muscle , a weakened heart muscle , or heart failure.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include palpitations, feeling dizzy or light-headed, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and fainting or near-fainting. Ventricular fibrillation may cause fainting within seconds and causes death if not treated. Emergency medical treatment may include medicines and electrical shock .
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Resting Heart Rate And Fitness
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at complete rest. It is an indicator of your physical fitness. Your resting heart rate will decrease as your heart becomes stronger through aerobic exercise training.
A low resting heart rate indicates better fitness in people who are in athletic training or a workout program, but it can have other health significance for people who are not physically fit .
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How Do You Find Your Pulse
The easiest place to find your pulse is in your wrist.
- Turn your hand so that your palm is facing upwards.
- Now place the three middle fingers from your other hand over your wrist below the base of your thumb.
- Press lightly to feel the pulse under your fingers. If you can’t feel anything press slightly harder.
A Normal Resting Heart Rate For Adults Ranges From About 60 To 100 Beats Per Minute A Doctor Would Like To Estimate The Average Heart Rate For One Of His Patients The Doctor Instructs His Patient To Measure Their Resting Heart Rate Twice A Day For One Week The Measurements Are Listed Below Assume That The Distribution Of All Heart Rate Measurements Of This Patient Is Approximately Normally Distributed
A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from about 60 to 100 beats per minute . A doctor would like to estimate the average heart rate for one of his patients. The doctor instructs his patient to measure their resting heart rate twice a day for one week. The measurements are listed below. Assume that the distribution of all heart rate measurements of this patient is approximately normally distributed.
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Normal Heart Rate Chart When Resting
A resting heart rate is defined as a pulse that is taken when you are calm, sitting or lying down, and the best time to measure a resting heart rate is in the morning before you leave the bed. Generally speaking, a lower heart rate functions more effectively and efficiently.
How to Take Your Heart Rate
Check your own pulse by placing the tips of your first three fingers lightly on the inside of your wrist below your thumb. You can also check your pulse by placing two fingers on your neck beside the windpipe. You may have to feel around until you feel the pulse beneath your fingers. Once you feel a pulse, use the second hand of a watch or clock to time 10 seconds while simultaneously counting your heart beats. Then multiply the number of heartbeats by 6 to get your heart rate per minute, or number of beats = ______ x 6 = ______beats/min.
Then compare it to the normal heart rate chart below:
What The Experts Do
Monitor Heart Rate for Motivation
For Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., most workoutstake place on an elliptical trainer in his home. His machine has electrodeson which he can place his hands to automatically see his heart rate. Itgives me a sense of how hard Im working, he says.
Blaha also uses his targeted heart rate to guide the course that heprogrammed into the machine, so that he works up to where he wants to be interms of exertion. Knowing your target heart rate and trying to achieve itcan be very motivating, he says.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, it’s vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
What Is Target Heart Rate
- You gain the most benefits and lessen the risks when you exercise in your target heart rate zone. Usually this is when your exercise heart rate is 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate. In some cases, your health care provider may decrease your target heart rate zone to begin with 50% .
- In some cases, High Intensity Interval Training may be beneficial. This should be discussed with a healthcare professional before beginning. With HIIT exercise, heart rates zones may exceed 85%.
- Always check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Your provider can help you find a program and target heart rate zone that matches your needs, goals and physical condition.
- When beginning an exercise program, you may need to gradually build up to a level that’s within your target heart rate zone, especially if you haven’t exercised regularly before. If the exercise feels too hard, slow down. You will reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the exercise more if you don’t try to over-do it!
- To find out if you are exercising in your target zone , stop exercising and check your 10-second pulse. If your pulse is below your target zone , increase your rate of exercise. If your pulse is above your target zone, decrease your rate of exercise.
What You Can Do
Additionally, you should plan to visit your doctor regularly for physicals. Not only is it good practice, but it can also help with early detection of things like high cholesterol or blood pressure abnormalities.
If you already have heart disease, you should carefully monitor your condition and stick to your treatment plan. Take all medications as instructed by your doctor. Be sure to promptly report any new or worsening symptoms.
Some additional preventative health tips to help keep your heart healthy and happy include:
- Find ways to reduce stress. Examples of ways to do this can include things like yoga or meditation.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Using too much caffeine can lead to increases in heart rate.
- Moderate your drinking. Women and men over 65 should only have one drink per day. Men under 65 should only have two drinks per day.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases your heart rate and quitting can help bring it back down.
- Be aware of medication side effects. Some medications can affect your heart rate. Always be aware of possible side effects before taking a medication.
Your heart is a muscular organ that works to pump oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the tissues of your body. The muscles of your heart contract and relax to push blood through your blood vessels.
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.
The Downward Slope: Your Metabolism Working Overtime
The Downward Slope is a sign that your metabolism is working overtime. Did you have a late meal, a late workout, or a glass of wine before bed? If your RHR starts high and reaches its lowest point right before you wake up, you may start the day feeling groggy.
If you regularly see this downward slope, it may be wise to stop and reassess your evening routine. For example, if you normally work out late at night, exercising 12 hours earlier can result in positive changes.
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How Do I Determine Heart Rate
Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist on the thumb side or on the side of your neck next to your larynx .
Does Your Heart Have A Maximum Number Of Beats
The maximum number of lifetime heartbeats for humans is about 3 billion. But you wont die when you reach a set number of heartbeats. Heartbeats, however, are a marker of your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolic rate , the shorter your lifespan.
The total number of heartbeats per lifetime is amazingly similar across all mammals. For example, a mouse has a heart rate of 500 to 600 beats per minute but lives less than two years. At the other extreme, a Galápagos tortoise has a heart rate of about six beats per minute and has a life expectancy of 177 years.
Do the math and the heart of a mouse beats 100 times faster than that of a tortoise. But a tortoise lives 100 times longer than a mouse. Humans, however, have about 60 bpm and have about 3 billion heartbeats per lifetime.
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