What is a Normal Heart Rate?

in Risk Factors

Your heart rate can tell a lot about your health. In fact, it can provide some insight into your future. For example, if you have a consistent high heart rate while resting, you could be at risk for anxiety attacks, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and similar conditions as you age. By familiarizing yourself with what your normal heart rate should be, you can be proactive now and work toward a healthier future and a normal resting heart rate.

What’s a Normal Resting Heart Rate?

According to Mayo Clinic, a resting target heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). If you’re on the lower end of that range, it means you have better overall cardiovascular fitness and ideal heart function. For example, someone who runs marathons or is very active could have a resting heart rate around 40 beats per minute.

People who are very active usually have a lower heart rate while resting due to their heart muscle being in better condition, which means it doesn’t need to work hard to keep a steady beat as someone who doesn’t get in much physical activity.

What’s Considered a Dangerous Heart Rate?

Tachycardia is when the heart rate is too fast. Your age and fitness level will be a factor when determining if your heart rate is considered fast. However, generally adults with a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute while they are resting is classified as too fast.

Don’t just watch for a rapid resting heart rate, though. Be mindful about a dangerously low heart rate, known as bradycardia. If you’re not all that active, your resting heart rate shouldn’t drop below 60 beats per minute. However, if you are a healthy young adult, a resting heart rate under 60 could be considered normal, according to Mayo Clinic. If you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or feel faint along with the low heart rate, that’s when you need to see a doctor.

What Should You Know About Your Heart Rate?

You should know how to properly check your heart rate to ensure you’re getting an accurate result. The most ideal places to check are your wrists, top of foot, inside your elbow, and on the side of your neck. To begin, you will need to place your finger over your pulse and count the number of beats you feel over a 60-second time period.

You know what your pulse is, but if you’re unaware of what a resting heart rate means—It’s when the heart is pumping the lowest amount of blood needed as you’re not moving much.

What Other Factors Affect Your Heart Rate?

Several factors can come into play as you notice your heart rate is either high or low.

Body Position - Sitting, standing, or resting usually gives you the same heart rate. However, if you were sitting down and stand up, it may go up just a little though it will drop back down in a few minutes.

Body Size - Usually body size doesn’t change a resting heart rate much, but if you’re carrying around a lot of excess weight, your resting heart rate could be closer to the 100 mark.

Emotions - If you notice yourself being anxious or stressed, you may see a rise in your heart rate.

Medications - Some medications can affect your heart rate. For example, too much thyroid medication can lead to a rapid resting heart rate. Medications that block adrenaline (known as beta blockers) can slow your heart rate.

Temperature - When you are outside in the humidity or in hot temperatures, you may notice an increased heart rate.

What is the Difference Between Heart Rate and Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood moving through blood vessels. Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Your heart rate and blood pressure don’t usually increase at the same rate. For example, if your heart rate is rising, it doesn’t cause high blood pressure at the same time. While your heart is beating more times per minute, your healthy blood vessels will get larger and allow more blood to flow through with ease. 

As you exercise, you will notice your heart speed up so more blood will be able to reach your muscles. A heart rate can double safely with exercise but your blood pressure may only rise a small amount.

When to See a Doctor

It’s vital to be in tune with your body. Being mindful about your body and what to look out for can allow you to catch health conditions early on. By being diagnosed early, you can potentially slow down the condition or put a stop to it permanently.

If you notice an abnormal heart rate, your doctor can accurately diagnose you with some of the following testing:

Exercise Stress Test - An exercise stress test is needed to see how your heart responds to increased activity. Usually a treadmill is used and it can be useful to diagnose coronary artery disease.

Electrocardiogram - An electrocardiogram test is known as an EKG or ECG test, and it measures the electrical activity of your heartbeat. This test is crucial for a doctor to learn whether the electrical activity of your heartbeat is normal or irregular. An EKG is often used to rule out if someone has recently had a heart attack or predict if there is one coming on.

Cardiac Ultrasound Imaging - An echocardiogram, known as cardiac ultrasound imaging, is used with sound waves to create pictures of your heart including the blood vessels, walls, valves, and chambers to see how well each is functioning. This test is ideal to rule out any abnormal holes, clots, and any other potential issues.

Other testing is available as well, depending on what type of problems a patient presents. An astonishing 28 million Americans are living with at least one form of heart disease. To be proactive and stay on top of your health, come in for a basic or advanced heart screening. Request an appointment at our TrustCare Heart Clinic today.

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