What is a normal pulse rate?

Pulse check illustration

Should I worry if mine is different?

Senior Cardiac Nurse, Emily McGrath says: 

Your pulse rate is the number of beats, or contractions, your heart makes per minute. A normal heart rate should be 60–100 beats per minute, but it can vary from minute to minute. It can go up to 130–150 beats per minute when you’re exercising – that’s normal because the body needs more oxygen.

Rapid heart rate could be due to a range of conditions

There’s no hard and fast rule, but for adults I would worry if your heart rate was over 120 at rest. If you also have dizziness, faintness or palpitations, you need further tests, so make an appointment with your doctor. Rapid heart rate could be due to a range of conditions, including anaemia or disease of the thyroid gland, not necessarily heart disease. A low heart rate, below 60 beats per minute, is called bradycardia. It can be normal in some people, for example athletes or those taking medications like beta-blockers, but could indicate heart problems or other issues so should be assessed by a doctor.

It’s also important to check the rhythm of your heartbeat. People with an irregular rhythm may have atrial fibrillation – your doctor can easily check. This puts you at higher risk of a stroke. Blood clots are more likely to form in your heart, and if one dislodges and travels to the brain, it will cause a stroke. Anticoagulant medication can reduce that risk. If you develop any new symptoms or suspect your pulse is irregular, let your doctor know.

Senior Cardiac Nurse Emily Reeve Meet the expert

Senior Cardiac Nurse Emily Reeve has worked in general and cardiology nursing with a background in cardiac rehab.



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