How do you know your heart rate?

Checking Heart Rate
A good heart rate differs from individual to individual, and it depends upon your age and the kind of physical work you do.

Your heart rate is a measure of how fast your heart beats and is also an important indicator of good health. Your doctor will always make it a point to measure your heart rate whenever you visit him for your routine health checkup or any health-related problem.

While the heart rate is routinely examined by your doctor, you can also measure your heart rate. With the help of your middle finger and index finger, you have to first try to feel and locate your pulse at any of the following places

  • Wrist
  • The inner side of your elbow
  • The base of the toe
  • The side of your neck

The wrist is the most commonly used and convenient place to check your heart rate. Once you locate the pulse on your wrist, you have to gently press on it for 60 seconds and count the beats. This is how you will know your heart rate, which will be in beats per minute.

What should my heart rate be?

As per the American Heart Association (AHA),

  • if you are an adult, your heart rate should be in the range of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
  • And if your age is between 6 and 15 years, your heart rate should be anywhere between 70 and 100 per minute.

What is a good heart rate for my age?

A good heart rate differs from individual to individual, and it depends upon your age and the kind of physical work you do.

Given below is the chart showing normal heart rates by age.

Table. Heart Rate by Age Range
Approximate Age Range Heart Rate (beats per min)
Newborn 100-160
0-5 months 90-150
6-12 months 80-140
1-3 years 80-130
3-5 years 80-120
6-10 years 70-110
11-14 years 60-105
15 years or older 60-100

However, a heart rate that is lower than 60 per minute does not necessarily mean that it is abnormal. If you are an athlete or someone who is engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity, you may have your heart rate between 40 and 60 per minute.

Is 72 bpm a good heart rate?

Yes, 72 beats per minute is a good heart rate. According to the American Heart Association, your risk of dying from a heart attack is lower if your heart rate is below 80 beats per minute.

A normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, it is healthier to have a heart rate that is at the lower end of the range.

QUESTION

In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer

When should I worry about my heart rate?

Before you become worried about your heart rate, it is important to know the things that can increase or decrease your heart rate. 

Your heart rate might be increased

  • Soon after you consume coffee or smoke
  • Whenever you feel scared, anxious, or stressed out
  • If the climate is hot and humid
  • If you are obese
  • If you are on certain medicines like decongestants
  • If you indulge in binge drinking frequently

Health conditions that may increase your heart rate and could be improved upon by treatment 

Some conditions like supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) may cause a sudden increase in your heart rate at rest. This is a medical emergency and needs immediate medical attention. This condition may lead to sudden death.

Consuming heavy amounts of alcohol frequently can lead to a fast and irregular heart rate (atrial fibrillation). This again is a medical emergency.

A persistent high heart rate can also mean that the heart muscle is weakened, which forces it to pump harder to deliver the same amount of blood. 

You may have a lower resting heart rate due to

  • Exercising regularly
  • Low levels of thyroid hormones in the body (hypothyroidism)

Certain medications like beta-blockers, which are used for treating hypertension and anxiety

You should also be concerned about your heart rate if you notice your heart beating on an irregular rhythm frequently. This can be a serious condition known as arrhythmia for which you should see your doctor right away.

When should you go to the ER for high heart rate?

When Should You Go to the ER for High Heart Rate
If your heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm and you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness, you should go to the ER

Tachycardia or fast heart rate occurs when your resting heart rate is faster than normal, which is about 60-100 beats per minute.

If your heart rate is consistently above 100 beats per minute and you experience the following symptoms, you should go to the emergency room:

SLIDESHOW

Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes See Slideshow

What are the different types of high heart rate?

Atrial or supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

SVT is a fast heart rate that originates in the upper chambers of the heart (atria) and disrupts electrical signals coming from the sinoatrial node, which acts as the natural pacemaker of the heart. It causes an irregular, fast heart rate, resulting in incomplete filling of the heart chambers between contractions and compromising blood flow to the rest of the body.

  • Signs of SVT include:
  • Risk factors of SVT include:
  • Treatment options for SVT include:
    • Carotid sinus massage (involves applying gentle pressure on the neck where the carotid artery splits into two branches)
    • Valsalva maneuver (involves holding your nostrils closed while blowing air through your nose)
    • Sedation
    • Rest
    • Limiting or completely avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco

Sinus tachycardia

Sinus tachycardia is a normal increase in heart rate in response to various factors.

Causes of sinus tachycardia include:

Treatment involves addressing the cause of sinus tachycardia.

Ventricular tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia is a fast heart rate that originates in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).

  • Causes of ventricular tachycardia include:
    • Lack of coronary artery blood flow, blocking oxygen to the heart tissue
    • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) distorts the structure of the heart
    • Side effects of medications such as thyroid hormones
    • Illegal drug use such as cocaine and amphetamines
    • Sarcoidosis (an inflammatory disease that affects skin or body tissues)
  • Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include:
  • Treatment options for ventricular tachycardia include:

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Medically Reviewed on 2/24/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

All About Heart Rate (Pulse). Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/all-about-heart-rate-pulse

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.

What is Supraventricular Tachycardia?. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/what-is-supraventricular-tachycardia

Are OTC Allergy and Cold Medications Making Your Heart Race?. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/otc-allergy-and-cold-medications-may-be-bad-for-your-heart/#:~:text=A%20decongestant%20eases%20congestion%20by,heart%20rate%2C%20or%20skipped%20beats.

Does Alcohol Cause AFib?. https://www.webmd.com/hase/atrial-fibrillation/atrial-fibrillation-alcoholeart-dise

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/what-are-the-types-of-tachycardia

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/about-arrhythmia/tachycardia--fast-heart-rate