What is a normal heart rate? The answer is a bit like the old piece of string - it depends on the person and the circumstances.
Most people understand why heart rate is important - it is a good measure of your cardiovascular health, for the simple reason that a strong heart pumps slow and steady, powering the blood around your body.
Your normal heart rate changes as you grown older, getting slower as your body grows and matures. For general purposes, normal heart rate refers to when you are at rest (i.e. sitting calmly).
The general ranges are as follows:
- Newborn infants: 100 - 160 beats per minute
- Children 1 to 10 years: 70 - 120 beats per minute
- Children over 10 and adults (including seniors): 60 - 100 beats per minute
- Well-trained athletes: 40 - 60 beats per minute
Your pulse is also a good indicator of problems with your cardiovascular system. Some of the most common problems include:
- High pulse: A high resting pulse (tachycardia) may indicate a problem, and you should immediately consult your doctor.
- Bounding pulse: A pulse that is very firm (bounding pulse) for more than a few minutes is also a cause for concern - again, consult your doctor.
- Irregular pulse: This is quite common, but can indicate a problem, so always get it checked.
- A pulse that is hard to feel: This can indicate blockages in the arteries, and is thus a major cause for concern.
If your eyes are the windows to the soul, your resting pulse is a window to the health of your cardiovascular system, so any irregularities should be checked by a doctor.