Think of your heart rate as a speedometer, like the kind in your car, that tells you how fast or slow your car moves or how fast or slow your heart beats.
“How fast your heart beats is a vital sign that helps us assess your heart’s performance. It’s one of the oldest recognized key factors in evaluating your heart,” said Marshfield Clinic Cardiovascular Specialist Dr. Craig Santolin.
Normal heart rate, or pulse, is 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults. It’s not usually a concern if it goes a bit below 60 but if it rises above 100, it can be a sign that something’s wrong. Santolin said possible problems could be:
- Heart disease/congestive heart failure
- Anemia (overall weakness)
- Thyroid problems
- Lung function issues like COPD/emphysema
- Acute and chronic pain
- Anxiety or panic attacks
You can take your pulse at the wrists, inside of your elbow, the side of your neck, top of your foot or along the side of the Adam’s apple on the neck. Practice finding your pulse, especially before starting an exercise program. Hold a finger over the spot and count the number of beats in 60 seconds or count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.