What is a normal heart rate and how do I check it?

Normal heart rate and taking your pulse
on Tue 4 Jun

 

What is a normal heart rate and how do I check it?

If we’re healthy we give scant consideration to our hearts and are usually unaware of its rhythm.  Our heart rate is expressed as bpm or beats per minute and this varies from person to person so a normal resting heart beat rate when you’re healthy and relaxed is between 60 and 100 bpm.

 

A resting heart rate indicates that your heart is pumping the lowest amount of blood your body needs because you’re not exercising. The more fit you are the lower your resting heart rate will be.

 

If your heart is beating in excess of the normal resting rate you are said to have “tachycardia” (fast heart) if it is beating less,  you are said to have “bradycardia” (slow heart)

 

Although these extremes are sometimes caused by heart disease the rates can be faster or slower than usual in healthy people for a number of reasons:

 

  • A high pulse rate may be caused by rigorous exercise, nervousness, excitement, having used a stimulant like caffeine or whilst pregnant.
  • A low pulse rate may be caused by being fit or being asleep 

 

How do I measure my heart rate?

A simple pulse check can do this. It takes less than a minute and it is vital to do this regularly, especially as we age. Of course,  you may use gym equipment or a personal heart monitor when you exercise and a display will advise you of your heart rate, but if not you can feel your pulse at the wrist or your neck.

 

Make sure you’re seated, rested and relaxed when you start.

 

To measure your pulse at the wrist place your middle and index fingers of one hand about one inch below the thumb of your other hand

 

To measure your neck pulse press your fingers gently to one side of your neck just below the jawline.  If you can’t immediately feel your pulsemove your fingers around slightly to find a better position.

 

Count your heart beats for 15 seconds.  Multiplying this by 4 will give you a one minute reading.

 

What if my heart beat is irregular?

An irregular heartbeat is called an “arrhythmia” and the odd one or two is not uncommon even when you’re healthy. In fact most people have at least one premature ventricular contraction (PVC) every day and don’t notice it.  A PVC occurs when the second beat is stronger and comes early.  This can be caused by something as simple as caffeine, stress or alcohol.

 

Irregular heartbeats can be temporary or permanent but if you feel a persistent irregular heartbeat you should promptly speak to your doctor. Don’t ignore this as, according to the heart rhythm alliance,  arrhythmias cause up to 100,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year.

 

Exercise and your healthy heart

Your heart is a muscle and needs exercising like all other muscles. If you’ld like to reduce the risk of a heart condition by getting more active you should aim to spend 150 minutes a week when your target heart rate (THR) is between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate. 

 

To help you work this out the British Heart Foundation has an easy to use calculator just here

 

If this blog post has raised concerns please get in touch with your doctor. If you are in or near London we are one of the few UK practices which has a Cardio Health Station that provides a non-invasive ultrasound scan as part of our heart risk assessment service. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

 

We make every effort to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date. However it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals we cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can we be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.

 

Tags

About Stephanie Acne AIDS alcohol units and effects allergies Andropause angina anorexia Anti Ageing Anxiety arthritis asthma back pain BHRT bio-identical hormones Biog Bloating blood pressure bone density Book review bowel cancer brain fog bulimia calcium Cancer cervical cancer check your pulse chronic fatigue syndrome coeliac disease contraception COPD coronary thrombosis Deep vein thrombosis Dementia Depression Digestive problems Donor advice DVT dyspareunia Early menopause eating disorders endometriosis exercise fertility fitness Gardisil Genetic testing hair loss Health Awareness Day Health Awareness Month Health Awareness week healthy eating heart attack heart attacks Heart Disease Helpful supplements Hepatitis High blood pressure HIV hot flushes HPV HRT HRT & breast cancer HRT in the news HRT risks Hypertension IBS Itchy Skin joint pain kidney function Leukaemia libido lifestyle Liver Disease Lung cancer Lupus LUTS Magnesium# Male Menopause Managing Stress ME/CFS Men's health menopause menopause and dental health Menopause Specialist menopause symptoms Menopause Weight Gain mental health Mental health support Migraine night sweats osteoarthritis Osteoporosis painful sex palpitations Parkinson's Parkinsons pelvic pain Perimenopause POI Premature Ovarian Insufficiency Prolapse prostate prostate cancer Pruritis Psychosexual medicine rheumatoid arthritis sex sexual health skin cancer Skin health sleep Statins STI's Takayasu Arteritis talks and presentations TB Tinnitus tuberculosis Type 2 Diabetes Urinary Infections Using a private GP UTI's vaginal dryness Vascular awareness month Vitamin D Vulval itching World Health Day

Email enquiry form

How To Find Us

Suite 2, 35a Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8EZ

Newsletter Signup

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

GDPR

We use MailChimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to MailChimp for processing. Learn more about MailChimp's privacy practices here.