What is Pulse? What Should Be the Ideal Pulse Rate?
Pulse measurement is a value that tells a person how fast his heart is beating. A normal pulse beats in a regular rhythm, and normal values may vary depending on some factors. If the heart is beating too slowly or too fast than it should, this could be a sign of a heart condition. Pulse measurement gives important results to detect such problems. Pulse can be measured especially from the wrist.
What is Pulse?
Pulse is the number of times the heart beats in 1 minute. The human body automatically controls the heartbeat to adapt to the person’s activities or emotional state. That’s why the pulse speeds up when we’re active, excited, or scared, and slows down when we’re resting, calm, or relaxed. A high or low pulse rate may indicate a disorder. A healthier lifestyle, such as exercising for an average of 30 minutes a day, eating healthier, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can help keep the heart rate normal. When the heart’s rhythm is disrupted, this condition is called arrhythmia. This disorder can be caused by clogged or hardened arteries, high blood pressure, and problems with heart valves. At the same time, heart surgeries may also play a role in heart rate changes. There are four types of arrhythmia. These:
- Tachycardia: It refers to a high pulse when the heart beats more than 100 beats per minute.
- Bradycardia: It refers to a pulse rate of less than 60 beats per minute in non-athletes.
- Supraventricular arrhythmia: It is a disorder originating from the upper chambers of the heart.
- Ventricular arrhythmia: It is a problem arising from the lower chambers of the heart.
What Should Be the Ideal Pulse Rate?
The best time to measure resting pulse is after waking up, before getting out of bed, ideally after a good night’s sleep. A pulse that is too fast or too slow can be a sign of heart or other health problems. A normal resting pulse should be 60 to 100 beats per minute, but it can vary from minute to minute. Age and general health are also factors that can affect the pulse. It is normal for the heart rate to increase during physical activity. At the same time, an increased heart rate during activity can provide information about a person’s heart health. Normal values for the pulse of physically active people may also be considered different. Therefore, it is important to remember that the ideal pulse value may vary from person to person. Target heart rate is the percentage of your maximum heart rate based on age. Things that can affect heart rate include:
- humidity level
- stand up suddenly
- thyroid medications
How to Measure Pulse?
The best places to measure pulse are the wrists, the top of the foot and the inside of the elbow. The easiest place to find the pulse is the wrist. For pulse measurement, the hand is positioned with the palm facing up. The middle three fingers of the other hand are placed on the most swollen point on the wrist. Press gently to feel the pulse under the fingers. To obtain the most accurate reading, the number of beats per 60 seconds is noted. Resting heart rate is the heart rate that pumps the lowest amount of blood needed for non-exercise. While sitting or lying down, the heart rate is normally between 60 (beats per minute) and 100 (beats per minute). With an irregular pulse, it may feel like the pulse is beating too slowly or too fast, even when resting. A low or high pulse rate should be checked by a doctor, as it may also indicate diseases. The doctor examines the cause of irregular pulse with tests such as electrocardiography and, in case of a disease, treatment is started.
A resting heart rate below 60 beats per minute is considered a low pulse and is called bradycardia. It is possible for bradycardia to occur due to damage to the heart muscle. However, this may be considered normal for some athletes.
Causes and Symptoms of High Pulse
If the heart rate at rest is over 100 beats per minute, this is considered a high pulse. Fast heart rate, also known as tachycardia, can be associated with many different health conditions. It is normal for the heart rate to increase when exercising or when the body is fighting an infection. Factors such as stress, caffeinated beverage consumption, and alcohol are among the reasons for rapid heartbeat. However, if a sudden increase in heart rate is noticed and at the same time dizziness, faintness or palpitations are felt, a medical institution should be consulted. Rapid heartbeats that occur in the lower chamber of the heart are known as ventricular tachycardia. When the body goes into shock from causes inside or outside the heart, the heart rate can increase significantly. Symptoms of high heart rate include:
- chest pain
- low blood pressure
- heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weakness
- Loss of consciousness
Low Pulse Causes and Symptoms
For some people, a low heart rate may be normal. Infection, thyroid gland problems, imbalance in blood values, sleep apnea or inflammatory diseases can cause abnormally low pulse rate. However, symptoms of low pulse rate include:
- Shortness of breath
- chest pain
What should be the pulse rate according to age?
Age and activity level are factors that can affect heart rate. Depending on these factors, the normal heart rate may vary from person to person and there are some accepted values. In general, the more active a person is, the lower their heart rate may be. What is healthy is that the heart does not have to work hard to circulate blood. These values are determined as minimum and maximum depending on the age of the person. Pulse values according to age are:
- 20 years old: 100-170 bpm
- Age 30: 95-162 bpm
- Age 35: 93-157 bpm
- Age 40: 90-153 bpm
- Age 45: 88-149 bpm
- Age 50: 85-145 bpm
- Age 55: 83-140 bpm
- Age 60: 80-136 bpm
- Age 65: 78-132 bpm
- Age 70: 75-128 bpm
How to Return Heart Rate to Normal?
The return of the pulse to normal varies depending on the reason why it accelerates or slows down. If there is an acceleration in the pulse due to excitement, resting and calming down can return the pulse to normal, but if it occurs due to a serious illness, treatment may be required. Treatment for high pulse depends on its cause. If there is an increase in pulse due to fever, antipyretic drugs help return the pulse to normal. If the fever is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may also be needed. Some patients respond only to radiofrequency catheter ablation, a procedure that destroys the area of abnormal heart tissue that increases the heart rate. But in most cases, high heart rate resolves on its own.
If there is a low pulse and this is due to a serious disease, it is a condition that requires treatment. A pacemaker is a device placed under the skin that helps correct a low heart rate. If another medical problem, such as hypothyroidism or a salt imbalance, is causing a low pulse, treating the cause will usually cure that problem. If medication use is the cause of low pulse, the doctor may reduce the dose of the medication or replace it with another medication.
If the person has a high or low pulse rate even at rest, it is necessary to consult a health institution. With examinations by the doctor, diseases that cause pulse changes may be found or the pulse value may be considered normal.