Healthy Heart Rates
For a person with no history or symptoms of heart disease, a comprehensive cardiac workup should be done every four to six years. But you can self-assess your heart function at home anytime using a simple technique that measures your resting heart rate (rhr).
How Many Beats Are OK?
The ideal adult resting heart rate should be anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm), although being at the lower end is considered healthier. Certain factors can cause a temporarily high rate, such as emotional state, dehydration, medication, recent exercise or temperature. Conversely, a very low rhr is not unusual for people who are very active or elderly so don’t be alarmed to find you have a resting heart rate of 40 – 60 bpm.
How To Check Your Resting Heart Rate
Since your heart rate changes minute by minute, it’s best to check it at different times of day when you are feeling relaxed. While sitting or lying down, place your middle and index finger on the radial artery in your wrist or on the carotid artery in your neck. Use a stopwatch or the second hand of a clock and count the beats for 15 seconds. Multiply that number by four and that is your resting heart rate. You may want to do this a few times to get an average.
Why It Matters
If your resting heart rate is regularly above 100, it could be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires treatment, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a cardiovascular disorder. Seeing your doctor should be your first step, but you can also make lifestyle changes to address a high resting heart rate right away. If you are a smoker, quit immediately. Begin an exercise program, even something simple such as taking daily walks. Losing weight and reducing stress are also important and will be easier to accomplish with consistent exercise. While your resting heart rate is only one marker among many in assessing your overall heart health, it does offer valuable information that you can test anytime to keep your cardiac function in check.