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February 6, 2019 • Cardiology
It’s common practice today for people to track their heart rate, especially with so many new wearable fitness gadgets on the market. But what is a “normal” heart rate? Sometimes, it’s difficult to know when you find so many different answers on the internet. A “normal” heart rate can vary, depending on your current activity, age, genetics and overall health.
A normal resting heart rate can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults. However, the truth is that everyone’s “normal” heart rate is different. Those who are healthier, such as athletes or others who regularly exercise, will naturally have a lower heart rate. They could even have a resting heart rate around 40 beats per minute. Others could have a resting heart rate above 100 beats per minute, and it could be completely normal. All bodies are different, which means if you feel healthy, and your resting heart rate doesn’t fall within 60 to 100 beats per minute, it’s probably your “normal” heart rate.
To track heart rate, you can use new wearables like Fitbits or Apple Watches, or you can keep track of it the old-fashioned way. First, put your index and third fingers on the side of your neck, underneath your jawline. You can also check your pulse on your wrist, on the radial artery, which is in between the bone and tendon where your wrist and arm meet. Second, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Third, multiply the number by four to determine your beats per minute.
Factors that can affect heart rate include age, smoking, exercising, cardiovascular disease, air temperature, body position, emotions, body size and medications. These are important factors to acknowledge when tracking heart rate. Once your doctor knows the factors that could affect your heart rate, he or she can help you determine a treatment plan in case you have underlying health problems affecting your heart rate.
Arrhythmia describes a group of conditions that disrupt your heart’s electrical system. If you have a high or low heart rate continuously, for example, you could have tachycardia or bradycardia. Bradycardia is a slow heart rate, less than 60 beats per minute, and tachycardia is a fast heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute. Other types of arrhythmias include ventricular arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. Ventricular arrhythmias are associated with any problems in the heart’s ventricles or the chambers of the heart, and they are the leading causes of heart attacks. Every year, ventricular fibrillation is estimated to lead to 220,000 deaths. Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the muscles in the heart contract abnormally. Afib is the primary cause of stroke, especially among older adults.
If you have these symptoms in addition to an abnormal heart rate, schedule an appointment with your doctor:
Although these symptoms can be related to many other diagnoses, if you have an irregular heart rate and any of these symptoms, then you might have a problem with your heart. It is normal to have an irregular heart rate now and then, but if you frequently have heart rate irregularities, then you should see a doctor.
“All About Heart Rate (Pulse).” American Heart Association.
“Categories of Arrhythmias.” Texas Heart Institute.
“Medical Definition of Heart ventricle.” MedicineNet.
“Should I worry about my abnormal heartbeat?” St George News.
“What your heart rate is telling you.” Harvard Health Publishing.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.