What is resting heart rate, and how is it measured?
The resting pulse or the heart rate at rest describes the number of beats that the heart makes per minute without physical activity. It would be best if you sat or lied quietly for the measurement for several minutes without moving or talking too much. This allows the heartbeat to slow down to the resting heart rate. Ideally, the size should be taken in the morning before you get up.
The easiest way to measure is from the underside of the forearm, near the wrist on the side of the thumb. This is known in technical terms as radial pulse measurement. The index and middle fingers of the other hand are used to feel the pulse in the slight indentation. A clock with a seconds display should be in sight. The beats are now counted for one minute.
The guideline values for the resting heart rate are 60 to 80 beats per minute. It is essential to check these values over time. For this purpose, the pulse should be measured every day at around the same time after a defined rest period or in the morning. If the values are consistently above 90, a doctor should be asked for advice. People with a permanently elevated heart rate should lower it in the long term.
Why should you lower a high heart rate?
High resting pulses of over 90 beats per minute put a strain on the heart. A condition with more than 100 beats per minute is called tachycardia by doctors. However, a high resting heart rate is not a cause for panic the first time you measure it. Often, the increased values at the doctor are due to the excitement caused by the examination or previous physical exercise. Therefore, the evaluation of resting pulses should ideally be carried out at home and without strange events.
If the resting heart rate is consistently high, the heart is stressed. According to studies, resting pulses with values above 90 lead to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the one hand, this can be seen in connection with other risk factors such as smoking and obesity since both factors also increase the risk of such diseases. They also cause a long-term increase in the resting heart rate. On the other hand, high resting heart rate values can be the only risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure.
Long-term studies have shown that the risk of death is twice as high in the long term, with resting pulses of more than 80 to 90 beats per minute. People with even higher resting heart rates have a three-fold higher risk than those with a healthy resting heart rate.
Therefore, a resting heart rate above 80 should be reduced under all circumstances in the long term. This is not always necessary for medication. In some cases, however, the lowering of the heart rate can be achieved with the help of drugs.
In which cases can the resting heart rate suddenly increase on its own?
An increase in the ordinarily healthy resting heart rate can occur intermittently. As a rule, these infections, often with a fever, strain the immune system and cause the pulse to rise. Initially, this is entirely normal and should subside once the disease is cured.
Even stress, for example, at work or in everyday life, can increase the resting pulse for a few days. The hormone cortisol, responsible for increasing the pulse and blood pressure, increases with physical and emotional stress. Only a long-term increase brings risks. However, an increase in the resting heart rate is average for a few days and is not a cause for concern.
Can the resting heart rate be lowered in a targeted manner through physical activity?
The most critical measure for lowering the heart rate without drugs is endurance sports. Competitive athletes can even have a resting heart rate of fewer than 40 beats per minute. However, that does not mean that you have to become a marathon runner to lower your heart rate. For an effective, long-term lowering of the resting heart rate by ten to 20 beats per minute, according to sports scientists, regular physical endurance of around 30 minutes on four to five days per week is sufficient.
It is not vital to stress yourself to the point of exhaustion. Instead, it is about maintaining a load within a specific heartrate range during the training period. This area is heavily dependent on numerous factors. These include, above all, age, gender, previous illnesses, and the individual training goal. A sensible training plan can be put together for individuals with a doctor or experienced fitness trainer.
A heart rating monitor is recommended to check the heart rating during training. In this way, optimal results can be achieved, and the heart is not unnecessarily stressed. For precise results, however, you need a little patience. The reduction takes place over the long term. The body needs several months to change.
How can you also lower the pulse in the long term?
In addition to physical activity, regular, targeted relaxation can also lower the pulse in the long term. It doesn’t matter whether you indulge yourself in the yoga studio, with other forms of meditation, or alone at home on the sofa for a few minutes. Alternating physical exertion and rest are particularly effective in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.
Lifestyle changes to eat healthily, and possibly weight loss, can also lower the resting heart rate. Since this is usually achieved through exercise, these two factors are closely related. Avoiding nicotine, caffeine and alcohol also has an effect.
What drugs are there to lower your heartrate?
Beta-blockers and calcium antagonists are mainly used to lower the heart rating. They work in different ways in the blood vessels and on the heart, thereby promoting a lowering of the heart rating and blood pressure. As a rule, they are primarily used in patients with high blood pressure and an accompanying high pulse.
In people with high blood pressure and typical heartrate values, the heartrate can drop sharply while taking these drugs. Calcium antagonists are rarely prescribed for the sole purpose of lowering the heartrate. The most effective way to achieve this is through beta-blockers. A sufficient reduction in heartrate can often be expected through non-drug measures.
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