An individual’s pulse indicates how fast the heart is pumping and is an indicator of general health. The normal pulse rate range varies depending on age, but most adults should be between 60 and 100 heart beats per minute.
What is a Pulse Rate?
A person’s pulse is the number of times her heart beats per minute. It is also known as the heart rate.
Testing the Pulse Rate
The pulse can be measured at several points on the body. The most common spots are the wrist and neck. The pulse can also be felt at the groin, temple, top of the foot and back of the knee. At these points at the body, an artery passes close to the skin. To measure the pulse correctly, place two fingers on one of these areas and count the beats for 10 seconds, then multiply that number by six. For a proper result, 10 minutes of rest is required prior to measuring.
Normal pulse ranges differ depending on age. Newborn infants should have a range of between 100 and 160 beats per minute and children ages one to 10 should have a pulse between 70 and 120. Children over 10 and adults should have a range between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Why Test is Performed
An individual’s pulse rate is a good indicator of his overall health. A divergence either above or below the recommended range, can be a factor or symptom of a medical condition. In serious emergencies, pulse rates can indicate that the heart is still working and pumping blood through the body. High pulses can indicate an infection or dehydration. Athletes can use pulse rates as a tool. Following exercise, an individual’s heart rate can show how physically fit they are.
A high pulse, known as tachycardia, and a low pulse, known as bradycardia, may be signs of a health problem. If these conditions apply, you should consult your doctor. Irregular heart beats and a pulse that is very firm and lasts for several minutes should also be discussed. If it is hard to feel your pulse, it may indicate that the arteries are blocked. This is common in patients with diabetes and atherosclerosis.
About this Author
Andrew Sheldon is a writer from New York. His writing focuses on health and exercise, but he is knowledgeable in various other areas. Sheldon has published articles on LiveStrong.com and Fitday.com. He graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science degree.