Your heart rate is a good indicator of the strength of your heart. It is a measure of how hard your heart is working, and an abnormality could indicate an underlying health concern. Your heart rate is determined by the number of times your heart beats per minute. It is important to be conscious of your heart rate since it can be helpful for gauging heart health.
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A healthy heart beats 60 to 90 times per minute. Your heart rate indicates efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. Different factors, such as gender or ethnicity, can play a role in heart rate. Women have a slightly higher resting pulse than men, as do Caucasians compared to African American women and men ages 25 to 55, according to a 1992 review of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Smokers also have a higher heart rate than nonsmokers. Heart rates were found to be higher in afternoon and evening and in fall and winter.
Absences and pauses during your heart rate are called arrhythmias. these irregularities in your heart rate caused by malfunctioning electrical impulses in your heart. An absence or pause during your heart rate may seem like a skipped beat. However, sometimes it is a premature heartbeat -- an extra beat between two normal beats, according to the Mayo Clinic. These occur before your heart's ventricle has had time to fill with blood after a regular heartbeat. Absences or pauses are seldom serious and are usually caused by stimulants such as caffeine, over-the-counter cold medications or asthma medications.
Contact your doctor if you are experiencing irregularities in your heart rate. An arrhythmia is usually not serious and does not require treatment unless it becomes more serious or you have other symptoms. If the absences or pauses in your heart rate become more serious, a pacemaker may be implanted to help stimulate your heart. A pacemaker sends out electrical impulses when it detects either a slower than normal heartbeat or no heartbeat at all.
Monitor your heart rate by taking your pulse. You can feel your pulse on your wrist, neck, groin and top of the foot, because the artery is close to the skin. Press your index and middle fingers 1 inch below your palm between the middle tendons and the outside bone. The throbbing you feel is your pulse. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds, and multiply this number by six to get your heart rate. To obtain your normal, resting heart rate, take your pulse after 10 minutes of inactivity, according to the National Emergency Medicine Association. If you experience an absence or pause, take your pulse for a full minute.