What Heart Rate Is Too High?

Medically Reviewed on 12/5/2022
Heart Rate
Learn to calculate your target heart rate zone.

Generally, for adults, a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute while resting is considered high (tachycardia).

Your heart rate usually rises when you walk fast, run, or do any strenuous physical activities or have anxiety. 

If you exercise regularly, or if you are an athlete, you may have a lower heart rate. Research says that a low resting heart rate is healthy for your heart.

Your aim should be to keep doing moderate-to-vigorous exercises regularly. This will help you lower your resting heart rate in the long run.

Exercising regularly at a target heart rate ensures that there is minimum undue stress on the heart and maximum benefit from the exercises. The American Heart Association recommends people exercise in their target heart rate zones, which are calculated as a percentage (usually between 50 and 85%) of their maximum (safe) heart rate.

The target heart rate zone and maximum heart rate according to the age chart
Age (Years)

Target Heart Rate (HR) Zone

Predicted Maximum Heart Rate
20 100-170 200
25 98-166 195
30 95-162 190
35 93-157 185
40 90-153 180
45 88-149 175
50 85-145 170
55 83-140 165
60 80-136 160
65 78-132 155
70 75-128 150

What is a dangerously high heart rate?

Before doing any vigorous exercise, you should know your maximum heart rate and target heart rate, both of which vary by age. See the target heart rate zone and maximum heart rate according to the age chart 

Going beyond your maximum heart rate is not healthy for you. Your maximum heart rate depends on your age. 

  • Subtracting your age from the number 220 will give you your maximum heart rate. Suppose your age is 35 years, and your maximum heart rate is 185 beats per minute. If your heart rate exceeds 185 beats per minute during exercise, it is dangerous for you. So, 200 beats per minute are bad for you in this case.
  • Similarly, if your age is 20 years, your maximum heart rate is 200 beats per minute. So, more than 200 beats per minute heart rate during exercise is dangerous for you.
  • If you develop palpitations, an irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, or chest pain, you need to seek medical help right away. This could be a sign of an impending heart attack or other life-threatening heart problems.
  • Your target heart rate zone is the range of heart rate that you should aim for if you want to become physically fit. It is calculated as 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. 
  • Your target heart rate helps you know if you are exercising at the right intensity.
  • It is always better to consult your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise. This is especially important if you have diabetes, heart disease or you are a smoker. Your doctor might advise you to lower your target heart rate by 50 percent or more.
  • A heart rate of 120 beats per minute while resting is considered a high heart rate. 
  • Anxiety increases your heart rate


Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes See Slideshow

How long is too long for tachycardia?

Tachycardia typically lasts a few seconds to minutes before returning to a normal rhythm. You may experience one or multiple episodes of tachycardia in a day, each lasting a few seconds.

Tachycardia does not always result in complications, but untreated tachycardia can lead to heart failure, stroke, or death. If you have been diagnosed with tachycardia and your episode has lasted longer than 30 minutes and been accompanied by a sudden decrease in lung capacity (shortness of breath) and chest pain, you should seek medical attention immediately.

The severity of the condition does not always depend on how long the tachycardia lasts but is determined by the type of tachycardia and associated symptoms, such as:

You must seek emergency services even if you experience one episode of tachycardia lasting a few seconds but is associated with other symptoms. 

However, regardless of severity, tachycardia should not be ignored, especially if it persists despite other symptoms.

Tachycardia is an abnormal cardiac rhythm in which the heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute while at rest. During tachycardia, the heart contracts more than usual, disrupting the regular filling of the heart chambers, lowering the cardiac output, and causing a significant drop in blood pressure. With reduced blood in arterial circulation, organs receive insufficient blood. Tissues, particularly brain cells, that are very sensitive to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) may get severely damaged or die.

Types of tachycardia

Tachycardia is classified into several categories based on the component of the heart responsible for the condition.

  • Atrial fibrillation
    • The most common type of tachycardia is characterized by irregular electric pulses in the atria (upper chambers of your heart).
    • Regarded as severe due to the higher risk of:
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
    • Produced by abnormal circuitry and generally occurs above the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart).
    • May be present at birth.
  • Atrial flutter
    • Tachycardia occurs due to irregularity in the circuit system of the atria, producing fast and weak cardiac contractions.
    • A type of SVT resulting from a re-entry circuit within the right atrium.
  • Ventricular tachycardia
    • It is characterized by fast heartbeats generated by abnormal electrical impulses in the ventricles. 
    • It inhibits your ventricles from pumping blood to the rest of your body. 
    • Normally lasts only a few seconds. 
    • When ventricular tachycardia lasts more than a few seconds, it can be fatal.
  • Ventricular fibrillation
    • When the ventricles receive rapid, uncoordinated electrical pulses, they may twitch instead of pumping blood to the body. 
    • This condition needs immediate medical attention as it poses a major threat to your life. 
    • It usually occurs following a heart attack or major incident.

What is the heart rate?

Heart Rate
Generally, for adults, a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute (tachycardia) is considered high.

Heart rate or pulse rate is the number of times your heart beats in a minute. It is a simple measure to know how much your heart works during rest or activities. 

Heart rate is one of the vital signs that are checked regularly whenever you visit your doctor, or when you get admitted to the hospital.

Your heart rate is lower when you are resting and higher when you are doing any kind of activity, or are feeling stressed or anxious. 

When you exercise, your heart needs to work harder, which increases your heart rate. As soon as you rest, the heart rate starts decreasing gradually and returns to its normal level, usually within an hour.

How to check your heart rate?

Heart Rate
Your heart rate can be checked by taking your pulse.

You can check your heart rate by counting your pulse. A pulse can be felt at various sites on the body like over the sides of the neck, the wrist, and the top of the foot. To check your pulse on the wrist with the help of your middle finger and index finger, you need to:

  • Keep your middle finger and your index finger over the inner part of the wrist (thumb side) and keep pressing gently until you can feel your pulse. The pulse is felt in your radial artery.
  • After you have located your pulse, look at the watch, and start counting the beats for 30 seconds. Doubling this count will give you your heart rate. You can even count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply the number by six to get your heart rate.

If you find the rhythm of your heartbeat slightly irregular, you will have to count the beats completely until 60 seconds. You will have to visit your doctor if you keep getting a fast and irregular heart rate consistently.

What is an average resting heart rate by age?

When you are resting - whether sitting or lying down - you can check your resting heart rate. Provided that you have not smoked, consumed coffee, or exercised vigorously an hour before. Activities such as smoking, having coffee, loud noises, and vigorous physical activity make your heart beat faster for a while, so you might not get your exact resting heart rate. And hence this may interfere with the correct heart rate.

Average resting heart rate by age chart
By Age Average resting heart rate (bpm)
Children (ages 6-15 years) 70-100 beats per minute
Adults (age 18 years and older) 60-100 beats per minute

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How to achieve a healthier lower heart rate

Heart Rate
Regular exercise is a great way to lower your heart rate.

A heart rate lower than 80 beats per minute is associated with a lowered risk of dying from a heart attack according to the American Heart Association.

Staying physically active by doing moderate to vigorous exercise regularly is one of the best ways to achieve a lower heart rate that leads to a healthy and long life.

Changes in your lifestyle that may lower your heart rate include:

  • Reducing the intake of coffee and caffeine-containing products
  • Avoiding binge drinking
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Intake of a healthy diet to keep weight under check
  • Doing deep breathing to manage stress and anxiety

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 12/5/2022

Normal Vital Signs. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2172054-overview#a2.

Your Heart Rate. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/watching-rate- monitor?tex=vb3&prop16=vb3.

Heart Rate and Exercise: How Much Do You Know? Available at: https://www.webmd.com/fitness- exercise/rm-quiz-heart-rate-and-exercise

What to Do If Your Heart Races, Slows Down, or Skips a Beat. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/what-to-do-heart-races

Pulse & Heart Rate. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17402-pulse-- heart-

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Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress- management/stress-relief-breathing-techniques#1