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What is a normal heart rate? - Types and how to check?

Team AckoAug 23, 2022

The human heart is a fascinating organ. It works non-stop to keep us alive and beats to the rhythm of our emotions. If you would like to get to know your heart better, read on. In this article, we will discuss what a normal heart rate is, explain how to check it, and highlight its variations across different age groups.

Normal Heart Rate

What’s a normal resting heart rate?

Normal resting heart rate is the count of beats your heart makes per minute when you are in a relaxed state. It is usually recorded when you are sitting down and resting. The normal heart beat range in humans while in a relaxed state is usually between 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm).

Is there any difference between your heart rate and your pulse?

As mentioned previously, heart rate refers to the number of your heart’s beats per minute. Pulse rate, on the other hand, is the measurement of the impact of pumped blood on the artery walls in your wrist, recorded over a period of a minute. Since the pulse rate records the impact of the blood pumped from the heart into the arteries, it directly correlates with the heart rate.

Different types of heart rates

The following are the different classifications of human heart rates.

  • Normal Resting Heart Rate: The normal heart beat rate in healthy adults is between 60 to 100 bpm. This is the heart’s bpm recorded when you are sitting and relaxing.

  • Bradycardia: When heart rate falls below 60 bpm, it is considered lower than normal. This condition is known as bradycardia.

  • Tachycardia: While maintaining a relaxed frame, if your heart shoots past 100 bpm, it is considered above the normal heart rate range. This condition is known as tachycardia.

  • Premature Contraction: In this condition, your heart’s ventricles produce extra or early heartbeats. This irregular heart beating pattern can disrupt your heart’s normal rhythm.

  • Fibrillation: This condition occurs when the heart starts quivering and causes irregular rhythmed beats.

Normal resting heart rate for different ages and genders

The normal resting heart rate in humans changes according to age. The below table shows the heart rate across different age groups and genders.

Parameter Normal resting heart rate
Normal heart rate for babies 70 to 190 bpm
Normal heart rate for children 70 to 100 bpm
Normal heart rate for men and women 60 to 100 bpm

Factors that can affect resting heart rate

Here are the key factors that can affect your resting heart rate.

  • Caffeine consumption: Consuming coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks and foods can slightly increase your heart rate.

  • Emotions: Undergoing stress, anxiety, and other intense emotions can spike one’s heart rate.

  • Suddenly standing up: Pulse rates tend to rise temporarily immediately after you stand up; they settle down within a few seconds.

  • Exercise or physical activity: Intense exercise and strenuous physical activity can significantly increase your heart rate.

  • Obesity: People who are obese have a higher heart rate than those who are not. The reason for this is that the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body.

  • Weather: When the temperature and humidity are high, it can cause a slight increase in your heart rate.

  • Medications: Blood pressure medication like beta-blockers can decrease your heart rate. On the contrary, certain thyroid medications can raise it.

What is the maximum heart rate?

You can record your maximum heart rate during exercise or other physical activity. Based on your age, you can calculate your maximum heart rate using the following formula.

Maximum heart rate = 220 – your present age

Having a higher than normal heart rate can lead to multiple health issues. Therefore, make sure to check your resting and maximum heart rate frequently; and consult your doctor if you encounter any abnormalities. The best time to test your resting heart rate is in the morning, just after you wake up, and the best time to record your maximum heart rate is after an exercise session.

How to check your own heart rate

Here are the simple steps you need to follow to measure your heart rate.

Step 1: Place the tips of your third, second and index fingers on the wrist of the other hand.

Step 2: Press your wrist lightly with your fingers until you sense a pulse.

Step 3: Check a clock with a seconds hand and count your heartbeat for 30 seconds.

Step 4: After that, multiply the number you get by two. That is your heart's bpm.

Note: If you record a heartbeat lower or higher than the normal range (60 to 100 bpm), consult a doctor at the earliest.

Diagnosing the cause of an abnormal heart rate

Doctors usually use the following tests to narrow down the root cause of an abnormal heart rate.

  • Imaging test: This test is used to assess abnormalities in the heart that may be responsible for the unusual heart rate. Popular imaging tests include CT scan, MRI scan and echocardiogram.

  • Electrophysiologic testing: This test is usually carried out after administering local anesthesia. It involves the insertion of electrode catheters into the arteries of the heart to record the electrical activity.

  • A tilt table test: This test measures the changes in your heart rate when you suddenly get up from a sitting position. If you suffer from fainting symptoms, doctors usually prescribe this test.

  • Stress test: This test is also known as an exercise or treadmill test. This test is usually prescribed for individuals suffering from exercise-related symptoms.

When to get medical help

If you record an abnormal heart rate, pay a visit to the physician. If your abnormal heart rate is accompanied by the following symptoms, get medical help as soon as possible.

  • Palpitations

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest discomfort

  • Unable to exercise

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions regarding heart rate in humans.

What are the normal human heart rate and pulse rate of healthy adults?

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The normal human heart rate/pulse rate ranges from 60 to 100 bpm. Since the pulse rate perfectly mirrors the heart rate, they usually have the same value.

Is it possible to hear my pulse in my ears?

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Yes, you can hear your pulse in your ear if you rest your head on your arm or hand. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus. If you continue to hear your pulse in your ear after getting up, consult a doctor at the earliest.

What is a target heart rate?

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Target heart rate is the ideal heart rate that you should aim for while engaging in physical exercise. If your heart rate increases beyond this rate, the risk of health consequences increases.

Apart from the wrists, where on the body can heart rate be measured?

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Apart from the wrists, heart rate can be measured from the knee, chest, neck, belly, feet, thigh, elbow, etc. However, usually, only a skilled medical professional can measure your heart rate from these regions.

Is a low heart rate a bad thing?

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No, having a low heart rate is not always a bad thing. Athletes sometimes record a heart rate as low as 40 bpm. So, if you are not a sports person and record a heart rate of less than 60 bpm, pay a visit to your doctor and get medical advice.

What are the causes for a higher than normal heart rate?

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Some causes of a higher than normal heart rate include the following.

  • Anemia

  • Stress

  • Anxiety

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Use of drugs like cocaine

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Certain medication

  • Medicine side effects

  • Hormonal problems

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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