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Understanding Resting Heart Rate Can Benefit Your Health

Understanding how the heart works can help people become more attuned to their personal health and wellness. For example, recognition of the importance of heart rate may shed light on aspects of heart health that people may otherwise never think about.

According to HealthDirect, heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times the heart beats per minute. A resting heart rate refers to the heart rate when one is relaxed, sitting down or lying down. For normal, healthy adults, a resting heart rate ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

The American Heart Association indicates that resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood needed because the body is not exerting itself. A lower resting heart rate is common among people who are very physically fit – sometimes as low as 40 bpm. This results from the heart muscle being very athletic and not having to work very hard to maintain a steady beat.

Resting heart rate differs according to age. Verywell Health says babies and children have higher resting heart rates because their hearts are smaller. Resting heart rate will gradually decrease until about age 10, at which point it stabilizes through adulthood.

Here’s the expected resting heart rates based on age. 0-1 month, 70-190 bpm; 1-11 months, 80-160 bpm; 1-2 years, 80-130 bpm; 3-4 years, 80-120 bpm; 5-6 years, 75-115 bpm; 7-9 years, 70-110 bpm; 10 years+, 60-100 bpm; Athlete, 40-60 bpm.

Knowing one’s typical resting heart rate can help people stay apprised of their personal health. A lower than normal resting heart (bradycardia) could indicate a congenital heart defect, a heart blockage, heart damage, or abnormally high blood calcium. It also may indicate hypothyroidism, hypothermia or other conditions.

A higher resting heart rate may suggest other issues, such as anemia, obesity, dehydration, fever, heart failure, hyperthyroidism, or overconsumption of stimulants like caffeine or nicotine.

Resting heart rate is not directly linked to blood pressure and is not an indication of blood pressure. Heart rate is measured on the inside of the wrist or on the artery in the neck at the base of the jaw. Pulse should be counted for 30 seconds and then multiplied by two to find beats per minute.

Individuals should keep in mind that air temperature, body position, emotions, body size, and medication use can affect heart rate. Checking heart rate several times can provide a more accurate perception of resting heart rate. Any concerns should be discussed with a doctor.