Something that has brought us the commercialization of pulse oximeters, activity wristbands and smartwatches is the habit of knowing our pulses in a simple way. Although the need to know them may not seem so important in people who do not exercise relatively professionally, the reality is that it can tell us a lot about our health.
The fact is that having high heart rates, based on our age and gender, can be an indication of long-term heart problems, as indicated by Harvard Medical School. Therefore, knowing the number of heartbeats we should have and what we can do to keep them as low as possible can be important for our health.
When we talk about pulses, we are referring to the number of times the heart beats in a minute. In relation to our health, the pulses that are taken into account are those that occur at rest. Most activity wristbands and sports watches provide us with this information in a simple way.
But if we want, we can do it by measuring the pulse with a finger, as pointed out by the American Heart Association. It is important that we do it at a time when we are sitting and relaxed, without being sick and without recent physical activity. We place the finger on the pulse and count the number of pulses for 60 seconds.
Adult Resting Heart Rate
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), it is common for an adult to have a number of beats per minute at rest that ranges from 60 to 100. Recent research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, indicates that the resting heart rate that could be considered normal varies significantly from person to person.
Specifically, they indicate that it is not uncommon for the number of normal resting heartbeats to vary by as much as 70 bpm from person to person. Therefore, it is difficult to say what is normal in an overall way. In any case, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) indicates that in most adults, more than 120 beats per minute at rest would be a cause for concern and may require a visit to the doctor.
As for the minimum, 60 beats is a good average, but some people have less and it would not be a health problem. This is the case of elite athletes or those with a very important level of fitness, who may even have 40 bpm. In addition, it is common for women over 55 to have higher pulses per minute. This may be due, according to the American College of Cardiology, to the effect of hormones.
In any case, if we are going to measure our pulse, we must take into account that factors such as environmental temperature, the position of our body, our emotional state (if we are experiencing stress or anxiety, etc.) or the use of medications can alter the heart rhythm.
Normal resting heart rate for children
In children the number of resting heartbeats changes significantly from that of adults. In children, especially babies, the normal heart rate is usually higher. The U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that normal heart rates in children vary every few years until they are 10 years old:
- Newborn to month: between 70 and 190 bmm.
- From one month to 11 months: 80 to 160 bpm.
- From the year to two years old: between 80 and 130 bpm.
- From three to four years old: between 80 and 120 bpm.
- From five to six years: between 75 and 115 bpm.
- From seven to nine years old: between 70 and 100 bpm is normal.
- From the age of 10: they already have the usual pulse per minute in adults. That is, between 60 and 100 bpm at rest.
Heart rate at rest in older adults
In the case of older adults, although the usual range is still considered to be between 60-100 bpm, it is common for them to show slightly lower pulses. It is considered that 60 pulsations per minute at rest in older adults is normal, although they may show even less.
In any case, between 45 and 55 bpm indicates that they may be presenting bradyarrhythmias and could be a sign of suffering some kind of disease, so it would require medical review.
What can we do to lower the heart rate at rest if it is very high?
A high heart rate may be associated with an increased risk of heart problems and an increased risk of death. The higher the heart rate, the greater the risk. The good thing about it is that, within a few margins, these pulses are something that we can work on so that we can reduce them.
According to the Heart Foundation, regular exercise is key to lowering the heart rate and reducing the pulse rate. This foundation points out that with aerobic exercise we could reduce the heart rate by one beat per minute every one or two weeks.
The recommendation usually focuses on aerobic exercise, since research indicates that this type of sport in the long term influences the parasympathetic nerve and lowers the heart rate at rest. Other research, however, indicates that interval training may be even more effective.
In any case, physical exercise is suitable for lowering resting heart rates if they are in a range considered normal. However, if our heart rate is very high, it is recommended that we seek medical help to tell us what to do or if we need to take medication.