5 Things to Know About Your Heart Rate

by Allison Bush Editor

A fast pulse isn't always caused by stress

Stress can definitely trigger a fast heart rate, but some people have a condition called tachycardia, which is when you have a resting heart rate above 85 beats per minute. Most of the time, tachycardia is caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. If you experience this, definitely consult with your doctor.

A slow heart rate does not mean your heart is weak

Because the heart is a muscle, the more exercise it gets, the stronger it will be. The stronger it is, the more efficient it is, taking fewer beats to pump blood throughout the body. So, a heart with a resting heart rate under 60 (a condition known as bradycardia) may actually be more fit.

Normal heart rate does not equal normal blood pressure

There isn't really a connection between heart rate (which is measured in beats per minute) and blood pressure (measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg). A person can have a normal resting heart rate and still have high blood pressure.

A good heart rate is between 60 to100 beats per minute

This is, indeed, the normal range, however numerous studies over the last few years have noted that if you're at the upper end of that range, you may be at risk for ischemic heart disease. A recent study out of Norway reported that for every 10-beat rise in resting heart rate, the risk of dying from a heart attack rose by 18 percent in women and by 10 percent in men.

Finding your target heart rate

Knowing your target heart rate will help you know whether you are over-exercising or not enough. To determine your target heart rate, take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side. Then, count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by six to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.