Checking Your Heart Rate
Checking your heart rate is a simple test that can be done anywhere. The pulse can be taken by pressing two fingers over the inside of the wrist or on the side of your neck below your chin and counting the number of beats. A fairly accurate heart rate can be determined by counting the beats for 15 seconds and multiplying by four to obtain the number of beats per minute. A resting heart rate between 60 and 100 is within the normal range.
Tachycardia is the medical term for a resting heart rate above 100, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats per minute it is important to contact your doctor as it could be a sign of a serious medical condition. Other symptoms that may be present during tachycardia include palpitations, racing or pounding heart, dizziness, fainting or irregular heart beats.
A resting heart rate of less than 60 is called bradycardia. Bradycardia could be potentially life threatening and medical advice should be sought, especially if you have other symptoms including dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue or fainting. Persons with bradycardia are at an increased risk of heart failure.
Like other bodily functions, the heart rate can be affected by a number of things. Normal heart rate can be increased or decreased according to activity level, temperature, standing up, lying down, emotional state, hormones, weight, and medications. Unusally high or low heart rates may be of concern if there are no known contributing factors.
Normal heart rates vary from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Knowing what normal is for you can be helpful in determining whether medical assistance is needed. While tachycardia and bradycardia are potentially life threatening, it is important to note that highly conditioned athletes may have resting heart rates as low as 40 to 60 beats per minute.