Heart rate, also known as pulse rate is the rate at which the heart beats per minute. It varies depending on the activities that have been engaged in before taking a reading, for example, running or just resting.
There are two easy ways to check the heart rate or pulse rate. These are:
- Placing two fingers to the side of the neck, just beside the windpipe
- Placing two fingers on the inner side of the wrist, just below the ball of the hand on the thumb side; that is, between the bone and the tendon in the middle part of the wrist.
Count the number of beats for a minute (60 seconds) or count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply it by four. Typically, the normal heart rate when a person is at rest is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.
When the heart rate is below 60 beats per minute, it is known as bradycardia, while heart rate above 100 beats per minute is called as tachycardia. Stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat. Usually, athletes have lower heart rates around 40 beats per minute because their heart muscles are well trained and have a larger stroke volume, meaning that more oxygen is delivered to the whole body per heartbeat. This reduces the work the heart has to do to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body, hence, beats less.
Hot temperatures, some medications and emotional states may alter the heart rate. Having a low or high heart rate doesn't mean that one has an underlying heart condition. When in doubt, it is best to visit a doctor.