How to Check Heart Rate
Heart rate or pulse rate is the number of times the heart beats in one minute. The values differ from one person to another depending on several factors such as previous activities, body type, emotional state, body position, fitness level and current medications.
Knowing how to check heart rate is important, as it signifies how much the heart works to provide the vital organs with oxygenated blood.
Read on below to see the steps on how to check heart rate.
How to Check Heart Rate by Carotid Pulse
Step 1: Relax.
Make sure that you are relaxed. If you are feeling a bit anxious, wait a while before taking your heart rate. If you have just taken a flight of stairs, sit down and allow your heart to return to its normal resting state.
Step 2: Feel for the carotid pulse.
To get heart rate, place the index and middle fingers on the neck. The pulsations will be on the area beneath the jaw, adjacent to the windpipe. Lightly press your fingers until you feel the carotid artery pulsating.
Step 3: Measure the number of beats per minute.
Count the number of times of pulsation in one minute. If the pulse rate is regular, you can count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply it by 4 to get the total number of beats per minute.
How to Check Heart Rate by Radial Pulse
Sometimes, it is easier to feel for the radial pulse more than the carotid pulse. If you want to know how to check heart rate by radial pulse, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Relax.
To get an accurate heart rate measurement, you need to get the normal resting heart rate.
Step 2: Feel for the radial pulse.
Place two fingers onto the thumb side of the hand, just beneath the creases of your wrist. Carefully feel for the pulsations between the tendon above the radial artery and the bone. Lightly press your fingers until you feel the pulsations.
Step 3: Count the number of beats per minute.
For accuracy, measure the beats for a full minute. Make sure not to use your thumb to measure your heart rate, as the thumb finger has its own pulsations that may confuse your reading.
Step 4: Check for the regularity of the pulse.
Some individuals have heart beats that may have pauses and spikes in between them. It may be regularly irregular or irregularly irregular. If this is constantly noticed, it is best to consult a cardiologist to find any underlying condition, if any.
Step 5: Check the quality of pulse.
Part of knowing how to check heart rate is finding out the quality of your pulse – is it faint or bounding? Is it weak or strong? The quality of the pulse rate is also a good indication of your cardiovascular health.
How to Check Heart Rate by Stethoscope
A more accurate way of checking for heart beat is the use of stethoscopes, but they are generally reserved for trained health practitioners.
If you own a stethoscope, you can listen to your heart by holding the diaphragm of the instrument against your chest, near the sternum but not on the bone. Count the beats for a full minute and note the quality and regularity of the beats.
Establish Normal Heart Rate
One of the reasons people want to know how to check heart rate is because they want to establish what is normal for their health level and body type particularly when they are working out – are they having enough exercise or not?
Gerald Fletcher, M.D., a Mayo Clinic College of Medicine professor and cardiologist, said that having a target heart rate is the key to know whether one if doing enough exercise or not.
When working out, you can hit your target heart rate by having a heart rate that is between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the highest value your pulse can go. You can calculate your predicted maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
That being said, it is important to measure and monitor your normal resting heart rate, which is the number of beats per minute while at rest. The best time to measure it is after waking up to a good night’s rest.
The National Institute of Health stated the average resting heart rate for children 10 years and above and adults is 60 to 100 beats in minute. Athletes who undergo rigorous training have a normal resting heart rate of 40 to 60 beats per minute.
While there are established normal heart rates, the values must still be correlated with present health status. If you constantly have a normal resting heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute when you are not a well-trained athlete, it is best to consult your doctor. Be wary of other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath, as it may indicate an underlying health problem.