A person’s heart rate, also known as their pulse, refers to how many times their heart beats per minute. Our heart rates vary tremendously, depending on the demands we make on our bodies – a person who is sleeping will have a much lower heart rate compared to when he/she is doing exercise.
There is a technical difference between heart rate and pulse, although they both should come up with the same number:

  • Heart rate- how many times the heart beats in a unit of time, nearly always per minute. The number of contractions of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles).
  • Pulse (pulse rate) – as the blood gushes through the artery from a heart beat, it creates a bulge in the artery. The rate at which the artery bulges can be measured by touching it with your fingers, as on the wrist or neck.

So what is your resting Heart Rate

For a human aged 18 or more years, a normal resting heart rate can be anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Usually the healthier or fitter you are, the lower your rate. A competitive athlete may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute.
Champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong has had a resting heart rate of about 32 beats per minute (bpm). Fellow cyclist Miguel Indurain once had a resting heart rate of 29 bpm.
According to the NHS the following are ideal normal pulse rates at rest, in bpm (beats per minute):

  • Newborn baby – 120 to 160
  • Baby aged from 1 to 12 months – 80 to 140
  • Baby/toddler aged from 1 to 2 years – 80 to 130
  • Toddler/young child aged 2 to 6 years – 75 to 120
  • Child aged 7 to 12 years – 75 to 110
  • Adult aged 18+ years – 60 to 100
  • Adult athlete – 40 to 60

Measuring your own Heart Rate

Although their are numerous areas you can measure your Heart Rate these are the two most common –

  • The wrist (the radial artery) – place the palm of your hand facing upward. Place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist gently, you will sense your pulse beating there. Either count them for up to one minute, or thirty seconds and then multiply by two. Counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying by four is less accurate. It is also possible to test the pulse by touching the other side of the wrist, where the ulnar artery is.
  • The neck (the carotid artery) – place the index and third fingers on the neck, next to your windpipe. When you feel your pulse, either count for the whole sixty seconds, or do it in a 30 or 15 second spell and multiply by two or four.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2012 at 3:25 pm and is filed under Heart Failure Carers, How the Heart Works.
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