Normal Pulse Rate: What Is the Dangerous Heart Rate?

Your pulse rate, or heart rate, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. It can vary depending on your age, activity level, emotions, medications, and health conditions. Knowing your normal pulse rate and what factors can affect it can help you monitor your heart health and prevent potential problems.

What Is the Normal Pulse Rate?


According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal resting pulse rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). However, this range may vary slightly depending on your fitness level, lifestyle habits, and medical conditions. For example, athletes and people who exercise regularly may have a lower resting pulse rate than average, while smokers, drinkers, and people who are overweight or stressed may have a higher resting pulse rate than average.

The normal pulse rate also changes with age. As you get older, your heart tends to beat slower and more steadily. The table below shows the average resting pulse rate by age group, based on data from the American Heart Association.

Age Group Average Resting Pulse Rate (bpm)
Newborns (0-1 month) 70-190
Infants (1-11 months) 80-160
Toddlers (1-2 years) 80-130
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 80-120
School-age children (6-10 years) 70-110
Adolescents (11-17 years) 60-100
Adults (18 and older) 60-100

How to Measure Your Pulse Rate at Home


You can measure your pulse rate at home using a device called a pulse oximeter, which clips onto your finger and displays your pulse rate and oxygen saturation on a screen. You can buy a pulse oximeter online or at a pharmacy. Alternatively, you can measure your pulse rate manually by following these steps:

  1. Find a place where you can sit or lie down comfortably and relax for a few minutes.
  2. Locate your pulse on your wrist or neck. On your wrist, place two fingers on the thumb side of your inner wrist, just below the base of your hand. On your neck, place two fingers on either side of your windpipe, just below your jawbone.
  3. Count the number of beats you feel in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get your pulse rate in bpm.
  4. Repeat the process two or three times to get an average reading.

You should measure your pulse rate when you are at rest, preferably in the morning before you get up or in the evening before you go to bed. You should also avoid measuring your pulse rate right after exercising, eating, drinking caffeine or alcohol, smoking, or taking certain medications that can affect your heart rate.

What Is the Dangerous Heart Rate?


A dangerous heart rate is one that is too high or too low for your age and health condition. A high heart rate, also known as tachycardia, is when your heart beats faster than 100 bpm at rest. A low heart rate, also known as bradycardia, is when your heart beats slower than 60 bpm at rest.

Both tachycardia and bradycardia can have various causes and symptoms. Some of them are harmless and temporary, while others are serious and require medical attention. Some of the common causes and symptoms of tachycardia and bradycardia are:

Tachycardia


Causes:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Heart disease
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Medications
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine

Symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Bradycardia


Causes:

  • Aging
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • Heart block
  • Medications
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Infection

Symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue

How to Lower or Raise Your Heart Rate


If you have a high or low heart rate that is caused by a temporary or lifestyle-related factor, you may be able to lower or raise your heart rate by making some changes in your habits. Some of the ways to lower or raise your heart rate are:

To lower your heart rate, you can try to:

  • Relax and breathe deeply
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Manage your stress
  • Treat any underlying medical conditions
  • Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications

To raise your heart rate, you can try to:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink more fluids
  • Eat more salt (if you don’t have high blood pressure)
  • Wear compression stockings (if you have low blood pressure)
  • Treat any underlying medical conditions
  • Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications

When to See a Doctor About Your Heart Rate


If you have a high or low heart rate that is persistent, severe, or accompanied by other symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. A dangerous heart rate can indicate a serious health problem that needs immediate diagnosis and treatment. Some of the tests and treatments that your doctor may perform are:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): A test that records the electrical activity of your heart and shows any abnormalities in its rhythm or function.
  • Holter monitor: A device that you wear for 24 to 48 hours that records your heart rate and rhythm continuously.
  • Echocardiogram: A test that uses sound waves to create an image of your heart and show its structure and function.
  • Blood tests: Tests that measure the levels of certain substances in your blood, such as hormones, electrolytes, and enzymes, that can affect your heart rate.
  • Medications: Drugs that can help regulate your heart rate, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antiarrhythmics, etc.
  • Pacemaker: A device that is implanted under your skin and sends electrical impulses to your heart to keep it beating at a normal rate.
  • Ablation: A procedure that uses heat, cold, or radiofrequency energy to destroy the abnormal tissue in your heart that causes an irregular heartbeat.

Your pulse rate is an important indicator of your heart health and fitness level. By knowing your normal pulse rate and what factors can affect it, you can monitor your heart health and prevent potential problems. If you have any concerns or questions about your pulse rate, you should consult your doctor for advice and guidance.

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