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Normal Heartbeat: Everything You Need to Know

Perhaps, the most important barometer of health is a person's heart beat. We tell you about normal heart beat, and factors associated with it.
Yash Gode Oct 28, 2018
"Life is one of those precious fleeting gifts, and everything can change in a heartbeat." - Anonymous
Heart rate refers to number of heartbeats per minute, and theoretically it should be between 70-75 beats per min (bpm). However, anything between 60 and 100 is considered normal.
Heartbeat is a commonly used parameter for checking heart health as well as general health of an individual. The heartbeat is called normal when it is rhythmic (not irregular) and has a low value during the resting condition.

Normal Heartbeat Range

Babies (under 1 year) : 100 to 160 BPM
Children (1 to 12 years) : 60 to 140 BPM
Children (above 12 years) and Adults : 60 to 100 BPM
Well-trained athletes : 40 to 60 BPM

* BPM (Beats per Minute)

Significance of Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate is the number of times the heart beats in one minute, when a person is in the resting or sleeping condition. For adults, it can be anywhere between 60 to 100 bpm. It denotes the efficiency of your heart and lungs. Some athletes record less than 50 bpm in resting conditions.
As fitness level increases, the heart becomes more efficient in pumping blood to various parts of the body. Rise in efficiency means the heart has to beat less number of times, especially, when you're resting. The higher your resting heart rate, harder is the level of work done by your heart.
Newborns and infants have resting heart rates between 100 to 160 bpm. As the child grows, resting heart rates gradually decrease, and by the age of 12 to 15 years, the rate touches the resting heart rate for adults.

What Affects Heartbeat?

A heartbeat is triggered by the sinoatrial node or the pacemaker of the heart, and the rate with which the heart beats depends on how fast electrical signals are generated at this node. Besides this major factor, there are several others which affect the beating of the heart. They are:
» Stress
» Feelings
» Temperature of the surroundings
» Level of activity of an individual
» Presence of underlying medical conditions
» Use of certain medications
» Size of an individual's body
These factors can either raise or lower the heart rate of an individual. If a deviation from the normal range is observed once in a blue moon, then probably there is no need to worry. However, a frequent occurrence of this problem calls for a physician's consultation.

How to Measure Your Pulse

There are quite a few points on the body from where the pulse can be determined. Common ones include:
  • Wrist (radial artery)
  • Neck (carotid artery)
  • Behind knees (popliteal artery)
  • Temple (superficial temporal artery)
  • Groin (femoral artery)
  • foot (dorsalis pedis)
Use index and middle finger to perform the test. To determine pulse from wrist, place these fingers on lower side of the wrist, with thumb on the upper side. Press the fingers lightly until the pulse is felt. Set a timer and count the number of beats felt in one minute. As said before, anything between 60-100 beats per minute falls within the normal range.
A resting heart rate falling within the normal range is alright, but one must make sure that it is not on the higher side. Being towards the higher end could indicate greater risk of developing serious cardiovascular problems. The best way to avoid any problem is by keeping a regular check on heartbeat and consulting a physician if any deviation is observed.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.