Pulse and Heart rate – All you need to know

PULSE AND HEART RATE

What is pulse?

Pulse is generally the feeling of the heartbeat. When the heart beats, a pressure wave that expands and contracts the artery which is referred to as a pulse. In other words, the frequency of heartbeats per minute is known as the pulse.

Pulse can be felt throughout the body at various locations. The radial, brachial, carotid and apical pulses are the most frequent areas to precisely quantify pulse as part of vital sign measurement.

Any location where an artery can be compressed close to the surface of the body, such as the neck (carotid artery), wrist (radial artery), groyne (femoral artery), behind the knee (popliteal artery), close to the ankle joint (posterior tibial artery), and on the foot (dorsalis pedis artery) can be used to check the pulse.

How to take your pulse?

The pulse can be measured in the area where the artery passes close to the skin. These areas include:

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  • Back of the knees
  • Groin
  • Neck
  • Temple
  • Top or inner side of the foot
  • Wrist

Pulse check at the wrist

Put your index and middle fingers over the back of the opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb, to check your pulse. To feel the pulse, press firmly with flat fingers.

Pulse check at the neck

Put the index and middle fingers in the soft, hollow area just to the side of Adam’s apple to check the pulse. To feel the pulse, press firmly with flat fingers.

What is the pulse rate?

The heart rate, or the number of times the heart beats each minute is calculated by pulse rate. The arteries enlarge and constrict with the flow of blood as the heart pumps blood through them. Adults with good health should have a pulse of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Taking pulse rate reveals the following factors:

  • Heartbeat
  • Strength of the heart

Types of pulse rate

The following are the types of pulse rate:

Normal pulse rate

A lower resting heart rate typically indicates improved cardiovascular fitness and more effective cardiac function. Athletes have a resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute. People who are above the age of 30 have a pulse rate of 65 to 100 beats per minute.

Slow pulse rate

A slow heartbeat is called bradycardia. A heart rate with less than 60 times per minute  is a clear indication of bradycardia.

However, the likelihood of developing bradycardia rises with age. From one person to the next, bradycardia might have a variety of different causes.

Fast pulse rate

Tachycardia is the medical term used for an excessively high heart rate. In general, above 100 bpm is considered a rapid heart rate for adults. Tachycardia can be brought on by a wide variety of heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias).

For example, the heart rate frequently increases during physical activity or in response to stress. However, if untreated, some types of tachycardia can cause major health issues such as heart failure and stroke.

What is an irregular pulse?

Seems irregular

An erratic heartbeat is known as an arrhythmia. It indicates that your heart’s regular rhythm is off.

Your heart may feel “fluttering” or an “increase in beating”. It may appear to be beating either too slowly or too quickly.

Seems fast

A heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute is referred to as tachycardia.

This condition does not indicate any signs and symptoms. However, other types of tachycardia such as heart failure, stroke or sudden cardiac death, might develop if left untreated.

Seems unusually slow

Heart rate is a measurement of cardiac activity and is the number of times your heart beats in a minute.

Bradycardia is a cardiac condition that is characterised by a slower heart rate. A heartbeat that’s slower than usual may also be a sign of a serious health issue.

Find out how to check your pulse?

Once the pulse has been located, perform the following actions described below:

  • Use a stopwatch or a timer to observe a heartbeat count.
  • Count the number of beats you feel over the course of a minute or 30 seconds.
  • The common way to assess heart rate is the number of pulses in one minute.

The ideal pulse rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute.

What is heart rate?

Total number of times the heart beats in a minute is called heart rate. The pulse, which is frequently confused with heart rate, really describes how frequently the arteries dilate and constrict in response to the heart’s pumping function.

The heart’s contractions, which raise blood pressure in the arteries and give rise to a pulse, cause the pulse rate to be exactly equal to that of the heartbeat. Therefore, taking the pulse is a direct way to determine heart rate.

What is the target heart rate?

The target heart rate is typically represented as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum heart rate for a 50-year-old is 170 beats per minute.

How do I take my heart rate?

The insides of your wrists

  • Press firmly at the wrist, just below the base of the thumb, with the index and middle fingers of one hand.
  • Just below your jawbone, lightly press the side of your neck.
  • Add four to the number of beats in 15 seconds to get the total.
  •  The obtained number is your final heart rate.

The insides of your elbows

  • First, relax your arm.
  • Place your index and middle fingers from the crook of your elbow on top and the point of your elbow bone on the bottom.  
  • Next, raise your arm an inch and move your fingers up.
  • To feel your pulse, you might need to apply considerable pressure.

The sides of your neck

  • Gently place your index and middle fingers on your neck just to the side of your windpipe, to feel your pulse above your carotid artery.
  • Look at your watch when you feel your pulse and note how many beats there are in 15 seconds.

The top of your feet

A qualified doctor should be able to easily identify two pulses in each foot. This examination is done to see if the blood flow to your feet is normal.A doctor can determine whether the blood flow to your feet is normal by looking at these pulses.

Causes of change in heart rate

Following are the reasons for change in heart rate.

Dehydration

The amount of blood flowing through your body lessens if you are dehydrated. Your heart rate will rise as it attempts to compensate by beating more quickly. Due to dehydration, your heart has to work extra harder than usual.

Fever

The heart rate, breathing rate and blood flow to the skin can arise during a fever. This is the body’s attempt to lessen the heat brought on by a fever. Feeling or appearing ill are some of the signs of fever.

Medication

Your heart rate might increase if you take the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax). Your heart rate can also be affected by other antibiotics such as levofloxacin, amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin.

Heart conditions

During a heart attack, the heart rate may vary significantly. Other factors, such as right coronary artery infarctions, have an impact on the heart’s electrical systems and reduce the heart rate during an attack. A person’s heart rate may also rise as a result of this.

What are heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are the condition in  that your heart is beating quickly, fluttering, or pounding. They may be brought on by stress, exercise or medication.

Heart palpitations are mostly innocuous, despite the fact that they might be unsettling. Rarely, heart palpitations may be a sign of a more serious heart issue that may need medical attention, such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

How to calculate your resting heart rate?

You can calculate the heart resting rate in the following ways.

  • Using a wearable tracker or by checking your pulse on your wrist or neck, you can assess your heart rate.
  • Put your pointer and middle fingers up against the radial artery on the inside of your wrist to count the number of beats.
  • You can find this artery directly beneath your thumb.
  • Additionally, you can check by pressing these two fingers on your neck on the carotid artery, which is situated next to your windpipe and just below your jaw.

When your heart rate is irregular?

When your heart’s rhythm is off, it isn’t effectively pumping oxygenated blood. This could be harmful to your heart and the rest of your body. The ventricles of the heart may “quiver” if your heartbeat is excessively rapid, which can result in sudden cardiac arrest or a loss of heart function.

Consequences of irregular heart rate

The underlying conditions are the consequences of irregular heart rate.

Heart disease

Although no specific heart rate can be considered a heart attack, a rapid heart rate outside of 60 to 100 beats per minute needs to be properly watched.

Imbalance of electrolytes in your blood

When you lose a lot of bodily fluid, you develop an electrolyte imbalance. For instance, excessive sweating or vomiting can cause the body’s levels of particular electrolytes to drop. In actuality, between 2 and 6 per cent of your body weight is lost when you perspire.

Changes in your heart muscle

The destruction or death of a section of the heart muscle (myocardium) as a result of a blocked blood supply.

Injury from a heart attack

The heart muscle that has lost blood supply starts to become injured when a heart attack occurs. The size of the area supplied by the blocked artery, as well as the interval between the injury and therapy, determine how much damage the heart muscle sustains.

Scar tissue is formed while the damaged heart muscle from a heart attack heals.

Healing process after heart surgery

The wound won’t heal for at least two to three months. You can anticipate having good and terrible days at this time, and you can experience fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, or just a general lack of self-confidence for a few weeks.

When to see a doctor?

Patients should not disregard chest pain or discomfort as it is a highly dangerous sign. They should seek medical assistance, whether it comes from a cardiologist or their general care doctor, to begin with.

Pain in the chest (angina), pressure, chest discomfort and tightness may occur If the blood arteries in your arms or legs are restricted. You may also experience weakness, pain, numbness, or coolness.

Summing up

Your heart beats on average between 60 to 100 times per minute for adults, which is what is known as your heart rate. You can tell when your heart beats by feeling your pulse.

One of the most straightforward ways for you to monitor your health is by monitoring your heart rate. It’s also a quick and easy technique for your doctor to diagnose current health issues or those that are developing.

More significantly, knowing your target heart rate allows you to work out more intelligently rather than just harder. You can maximise the benefits of your activity and take good care of yourself in this manner.

FAQs

What is a suitable resting heart rate chart by age?

Age Normal resting hour
Newborn 100-160 bpm
0-5 months 90-150 bpm
6-12 months 80-140 bpm
1-3 years 80-130 bpm
3-5 years 80-130 bpm
6-10 years 70-110 bpm
11-14 years 60-105 bpm

What is the difference between pulse and heart rate?

Both heart rate and pulse rate provide the same data. The number of heartbeats per minute is the standard definition of pulse rate. An average adult’s resting pulse rate falls between 60 and 80 beats per minute. The heart rate is the rate of beating of the human heart.

Does pulse affect blood pressure?

Healthy blood arteries will enlarge as your heart beats more quickly to accommodate more blood flow, which aids in keeping your blood pressure largely steady. This is frequently true during physical activity when your heart rate can rise significantly yet your blood pressure could only minimally fluctuate.

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