Information about heart rate and cardiovascular health in general is not just meant for athletes alone. You need to monitor your heart rate and be well-informed about the state of your heart as this can aid early detection of illness.
What exactly is Heart rate?Well, heart rate is simply the number of times your heart beats in a single minute. A beat is a full cycle of systole and diastole, if you are checking directly from the heart, while it’s a single pulse from anywhere else. Heart rate isn’t a uniform figure; it differs from individual to individual. And so it is important to know what your own heart rate is so you can tell when something’s off.
Heart rate is also affected by age not necessarily as a result of growing illness. But it could serve as a viable indicator of an underlying health problem.
Where can you check your heart rate?
Besides your chest, there are several spots on your body where you can monitor your heart rate using the pulse of an artery. As you may already know, each pulse represents a beat. These locations include:
• The wrists.
• The inside part of the elbow.
• Top of the foot.
These are the most common spots to monitor your heart rate. Some people can feel their pulse in their armpits, in front of their ears (like me), and some other parts as well. You can put your hand on your chest (the left side) or place a finger or two over your pulse and then count the number of beats or pulses in 1 minute (60 seconds).
And so, you may be asking…
What is a normal heart rate?Before I say what a normal heart rate is, you should know that there are two types of heart rate or two sets of heart rate that can be measured: resting heart rate and active heart rate. Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats when you are calm and not moving or exercising. It can be anywhere between 60 and 100 BPM. Then the active heart rate is the number of times your heart beats when you are moving or exercising. It can be up to 180 BPM. A heart rate below 60 doesn’t usually mean there’s an underlying health issue. Some drugs such as Beta-Blockers can lower the resting heart rate, and an active lifestyle such as that of an athlete can also do same.
Are there other factors that affect heart rate?Yes, there are a few factors that can affect your heart rate. They include:
• Humidity/Temperature: An increase in temperature can slightly increase your heart rate. This is one of the body’s ways of dealing with temperature changes.
• Position: If you rise from a sitting position, especially quickly, your heart rate rise slightly but if a rigorous activity doesn’t follow, it should return to its normal resting rate.
• State of your mind: Emotions can significantly affect your heart rate. If you are scared, anxious, very happy or sad your heart rate can increase noticeably.
• Big or small: Although body size doesn’t necessarily affect the heart rate. However, if a person is obese, they might register a considerably higher resting heart rate than a normal person. Although this is usually not above 100 BPM.
• Drugs: Certain drugs such as those that inhibit adrenalin (Beta-blockers) can reduce your heart rate. While others like those thyroid drugs can increase it.
When do you need a doctor?Well, you usually don’t need a doctor if your heart is beating fine. However, if you detect an abnormal increase or decrease in your heart rate accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness or fainting, then that might be a good time to ring the doctor.
In the instance where you are on a special kind of medication that affects your heart rate, you might be asked to monitor your heart rate and record them frequently. This will help the doctor know if it’s time to stop the medication, change it or reduce the dosage.
Monitoring your heart rate at home
To monitor heart rate at home, there are a number of devices that you can use such as a fitness heart rate monitor, finger heart rate monitor, heart rate monitor watches, women's heart rate monitor and other types of smartwatches that can easily monitor your heart throughout the day which you can buy online.