Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeHealthHealth Conditions

Is your pulse rate normal?

BY READERS DIGEST

1st Jan 2015 Health Conditions

Is your pulse rate normal?
Whether it’s regular or irregular, slow or fast, your pulse rate can help identify whether you have any potential cardiac problems. It’s also a great tool to see how fit you are.

What is a healthy pulse rate?

healthy pulse rate
Dr Sarah Jarvis explains that the average pulse rate is around 70 beats per minute, but anything between 60 to 80 is still normal, as long as it’s regular.
With your resting heart rate, it can be anything from 40 to 100 bpm and varies depending on how fit you are—fitter people usually have a slower resting heart rate.
Your heart rate can also increase with age or by exercise, anxiety, alcohol, caffeine and taking recreational drugs.
Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, can also cause your heart rate to slow down.

What conditions can cause your pulse rate to change?

heart rate
Various conditions can cause changes to your pulse rate. For example, if you suffer from abnormal heart rhythm conditions such as supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, your heart rate can beat up to 150 beats per minute or more, fast but regular.
If you suffer from atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm condition, your heart beat may be completely irregular with no pattern at all.
Occasionally if you’re unwell, especially with a fever, your pulse rate can be temporarily raised. This might also happen if you are dehydrated, anaemic or losing blood.
People in shock from blood loss tend to have a very, rapid weak pulse.

Should you be regularly taking your pulse?

Regularly check heartbeat
Dr Sarah Jarvis advises that older people should check their pulse rate regularly to ensure they don’t have an irregular heart rhythm, especially if you are aged over 65.
If you do notice an irregular heart rhythm, you should always visit your GP, even if you feel well.
People with a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke or heart failure, should also regularly check their pulse as they are at a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Younger people don’t necessarily need to check their rate on a regular basis if they feel well, however if their heart rate is over 100 bpm when resting then they should see a doctor.

How to measure your pulse?

how to measure your pulse
The good thing is that your pulse rate can easily be measured and taken at home.
  • Find a quiet place and equip yourself with a digital stopwatch, or a watch with a second hand.
  • Place two fingers from one hand on the artery on the inside of your wrist, just below your thumb.
  • Don’t use your thumb, as it has its own pulse which you may feel.
  • Count your pulse for 30 seconds.
  • Double the number to get your pulse rate result.

How to regulate your pulse rate

If you’re keen to help regulate your pulse rate and improve your health in general, then simple changes and lifestyle improvements can make a difference.
Here’s some tips from Dr Sarah Jarvis:
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption
  • Keep your daily caffeine intake limited to 450mg per day
  • Take regular exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid using recreational drugs
 

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit ipso.co.uk