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How to Check Your Heart Rate

By Edited May 21, 2014 0 3

There are a variety of legitimate reasons why you would want to check your own heart rate. Whether you are attempting to ensure that you are exercising vigorously at your optimal target heart rate, or you have a medical condition (like hypertension) that requires frequent heart rate checks, learning how to check your own heart rate can provide tremendous insight and data into your general health state.

Otherwise known as your "pulse", your heart rate can be checked in a variety of locations on your body, with a variety of methods, techniques, and technologies. While having a heart rate monitor will ultimately allow you to check your heart rate the quickest, this Info Barrel article will show you how you can do so manually or without a heart monitor with a screen that will automatically show you what your heart rate is.

Things You Will Need

Step 1

Checking your own heart rate doesn't have to be difficult. In order to do so, you will first have to determine where you would like to check your heart rate. Because a variety of locations exist on the human body where you can check your heart rate or pulse, you have quite a few options at your disposal. Generally and conveniently, many health care providers will check a patient's heart rate on the outside aspect of their lower arm, near their wrist, when their palm is facing upwards. This location is chosen specifically because of it's ease of access and appropriateness.

When taking your own heart rate, you can also choose such locations as your neck or even at the apex of your heart on the left side of your body. The lower left side of the heart actually has very thick walls in order to fulfill the duty required of its muscle to pump blood out into your peripheral circulation. Because of this, the lower left hand side of your heart is also the location of PMI (Point of Maximal Impulse) and can actually be felt with your hand. In a healthy individual, you will feel this pulse location almost as instantaneously as you will your neck pulse (carotid artery).

Step 2

Once you have determined where exactly you would like to take your own pulse, you will now take two fingers (preferably your pointer and index finger), on either hand, and gently press it into the location where you feel a bounding pulse in your artery. If you have yet to ever feel your own pulse, the sensation you feel may feel a bit strange to you or it may even scare you for fear that you could hurt yourself somehow. Outside of tying a rope extremely tightly around your arm, gently indenting this location will do little to actually hurt you unless you push very hard for extended periods of time. If you do this, you risk occluding or closing off the vessel.

Step 3

Dependent upon the accuracy you require for your heart rate, you can count the number of "pulses" you feel in a variety of different time frames. For those with heart conditions, it is oftentimes recommend that you count your pulse or heart rate for a minute straight. The reason why this is done is to ensure accuracy and precision of the pulse reading, especially when the pulse is inconsistent and irregular. If you count your pulse for a full minute, then the number you achieve will be the number you would document as bpm (beats per minute).

While doing this, you will keep a visual on your watch and when exactly your second hand begins and when it ends. If at all possibility, in order to reduce confusion, you can begin counting when your longer second hand on you watch has hit the (12) position on your watch. Be sure that what you count is actually the number of pulses you feel, rather than the actual seconds transpired on your watch. Knowing that there are 60 seconds in a minute, your heart rate will not always be a perfect 60 beats per minute. Dependent on the situation, and when you take your heart rate, your pulse could very well be way above 60 beats per minute or way below it.

Step 4

Rather than count your pulses for a whole minute, you can also view your watch hand and count your pulses for 30 second of 15 second increments. When you count your heart rate for 30 seconds, because that is 1/2 a minute, you will want to multiply the number you achieve by 2. For example, if you had counted 30 pulses in 30 seconds, your heart rate would be 60 pulses in 1 minute (or 60 seconds).

While less accurate and precise, yet much quicker, you can also count your heart rate in increments of 15 seconds. Because there are 4 increments of 15 seconds in 1 minute (60 seconds total), you will want to multiply the number you achieve in your heart rate count by 4. For example, if you count 15 pulses in 15 seconds,you will want to multiply your pulse count by 4, which would leave you with 60 beats per minute, as well.

Step 5

If necessary, you can also repeat this by counting for a single increment of 10 seconds. Because there are 6 increments of 10 seconds in a minute, you would want to multiply your pulse count by 6.

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Sep 29, 2010 1:18pm
Great explanation on how to check your pulse rate!
Sep 29, 2010 1:22pm
Apparently, I actually retained some of the information from Nursing School...lol
Oct 2, 2010 12:19pm
Great article. I am a RRT.
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