February is American Heart Month and within these dedicated-to-heart-health four weeks is now the “Peek at your Pulse” campaign. Multiple studies have shown a high resting pulse could signify future heart risk. Testing one’s pulse is quick and easy, and unfortunately not done as frequently as it should. Hence“Peek at your Pulse” explains why its important and how easy it can be.
What is a pulse?
A pulse is the heart rate felt in an artery such as in the wrist, neck, top of the foot etc. Feeling the pulse allows us to determine the heart rate, feel the strength of blood flow, and learn the rhythm (irregular, slow, fast, etc).
What’s normal and abnormal for a pulse?
A normal adult pulse ranges from 60-100 beats/minute with the average 70-80 beats/min. An athlete may have a lower resting heart rate due to his/her cardiac conditioning.
The above table from quora.com breaks down the various pulse categories by age and sex.
Why are higher pulse rates less favorable?
In 2013 a study found for every 10 to 22 additional beats per minute in resting heart rate raised the likelihood of death by 16%. Then in 2015, a study out of China found a high resting heart rate increased the chance of early death. Per lead researcher Dr. Dongfeng Zhang, of the department of epidemiology at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Shandong, China, “higher resting heart rate is an independent predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular death.”
So the cause of the high heart rate could be a cause of mortality or the high heart rate could be the harmful factor. If a heart needs to beat an extra 20 beats per minute, and does this 60 minutes each hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year……you see where this is going. The heart beats and expends more energy, possible weakening it later in life.
How can I find my pulse?
Four locations make finding a pulse easy.
The neck along the side under your jaw (the carotid artery)
Your wrist along the same line as your thumb (the radial artery)
Your inner elbow (the brachial artery)
The top of the foot (the dorsalis pedis artery)
Calculating your pulse
With a timer or watch count the beats you feel in 60 seconds. This will be your pulse rate.
You can also count the number of beats in 10 seconds and then multiply by 6
Or you can count the number of beats in 6 seconds and then multiply by 10.
There’s no official recommendation on when to check your pulse but this month, check it on 10 different days and calculate the average. Make sure to check your pulse when you’re resting and sitting comfortably in a chair. Good luck!!! #peekatyourpulse