By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
A baby in the womb (intrauterine) develops its heart surprisingly quit early. Foetal heart rate varies from about 50bpm and by the 12th week in the womb raises approximately to 140-150bpm (beats per minute). Grown-ups have an average persistent heart rate between 70- 90 bpm depending on the physical fitness of the individual. If you are in the athletic range your heart rate can further drop depending on the extent of training. An Olympic athlete would bring down the heart rate even to as low as 40bpm depending on the extent of training.
The heart muscles are so strong in a trained individual that it could pump more blood, so beating less number of times per minute. If you are sedentary and not active, the heart rate can go even up to 100bpm. In the latter situation, the heart is weaker and less blood is pumped per beat, and need to pump a number of times per minute. Men seem to have a lower normal pulse rate than the women.
Your target heart rate
When you exercise on a treadmill you need to know your target heart rate. It is important to keep your level of exercise to between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate to be on the safe side.
This is estimated by subtracting your age from 220 and limiting your exercise to about 85% of the upper limit.
Anyhow, whilst exercising vigorously if you feel breathless, dizzy, ache in the heart, you should stop immediately before you strain your heart unnecessarily.
If you are on beta blockers which slow down the heart rate, you should be very careful not to strain your heart by overdoing.
Wear an electronic heart monitor with built in heart sensors whilst you exercise to be on the safe side. That can tell you how hard you are exercising
The heart rate of an individual varies and influenced by exercise, age, emotions, medications, glandular activities, body positions, and the health condition of the heart muscle conducting system (Bundle of His).
Resting heart rate is an indicator of general health and cardiovascular fitness. It is measured by feeling the pulse, in your wrist, neck or groin. It is more convenient to feel the radial pulse at the wrist level. To check on your neck place your index and mid-finger over the side of the lower neck wind-pipe and you may feel the thuds of the carotid arteries. It is more practical to feel the pulse in the wrist by placing the index and mid-fingers across just above the crease line at the wrist, more towards the outside (base of your thumb).
Changes in heart (pulse) rate-Arrhythmias
If you feel that the pulse is very slow, very rapid, or any irregularity such as a drop beat, then you need to consult your doctor soon. If there are breathless, tiredness and fainting bouts you need to visit the casualty in the closest well-equipped hospital. The doctors at the casualty will perform a quick EKG examination and check on your chemical troponins normally released when the heart is stressed or damaged.
Your pulse can be running a marathon whilst resting, and its origin could be sudden. In such a situation hold your breath for a short while may give relief. The EKG tracing may diagnose the condition as “Supra-ventricular Tachycardia” The doctors will give you a shot of chemical called ‘adenosine’ to bring your heart rate to normal.
You could try the Valsalva manoeuvre holding the breath does help to reduce the heart rate. You hold the breath whilst mouth closed and bearing down may help as a home remedy. It works by increasing the pressure in the chest cavity which stimulates the vagus nerve (longest nerve in the body) that slows the heart rate.
The ultimate permanent solution for supra-ventricular tachycardia is a procedure known as cardiac ablation.
Other causes of irregular heart beat
Premature ventricular contractions
If people are educated through the mass media and TV channels not to panic if you are subjected to headaches, high fever and a rapid pulse. That is not Dengue- positive about that.
Bradycardia-lowering of heart rate
Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism): Imbalance of chemicals in the blood, such as potassium or calcium: Repeated disruption of breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea): Inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatic fever or lupus
Medications, including some drugs for other heart rhythm disorders, high blood pressure, and psychosis
Heart block (atrioventricular block)
Conclusions: If you consider yourself a healthy person you need to check your pulse frequently and if there is any abnormality please do not ignore, consult your doctor.
Hope this article will benefit you to influence your good health.
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