Heart rate: What's normal?

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Heart rate: What's normal?

Question

What's a normal resting heart rate?

Kathy
California

Answer

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute.

Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute.

To measure your heart rate, simply check your pulse. Place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery — which is located on the thumb side of your wrist.

When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by 4 to calculate your beats per minute.

Keep in mind that many factors can influence heart rate, including:

  • Activity level
  • Fitness level
  • Air temperature
  • Body position (standing up or lying down, for example)
  • Emotions
  • Body size
  • Medications

Although there's a wide range of normal, an unusually high or low heart rate may indicate an underlying problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats a minute (tachycardia) or below 60 beats a minute (bradycardia) — especially if you have other signs or symptoms, such as fainting, dizziness or shortness of breath.

Last Updated: 2012-09-29
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