Heart Rate: Normal vs. Dangerous

Heart rates differ from one individual to the next, but what constitutes normal? When does a heart rate become dangerous? Continue reading to find out more.

What does it mean to have a normal resting heart rate?

While your heart rate is affected by your age and degree of activity, there are a few "normal" parameters.

Because you're at rest, your resting heart rate is when your heart pumps the smallest quantity of blood that your body requires.

A normal resting heart rate for most persons, including seniors, is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Athletes' heart rates may be reduced to 40 to 60 beats per minute.

There are a few additional things that can affect your resting heart rate besides your age.

  • Temperature. When you're exposed to heated weather, your heart rate may slightly increase.
  • Side effects of medication. Medications like beta-blockers, for example, can lower your resting heart rate.
  • Emotions. Your heart rate may increase if you're anxious or excited.
  • Weight. Obese people are more likely to have a greater resting heart rate. This is due to the fact that the heart has to work harder to keep the body supplied with blood.
  • Anemia and cardiovascular conditioning or deconditioning
  • Abnormalities in the endocrine or hormonal systems.
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS). After sitting up or standing, this syndrome causes an unnatural increase in heart rate. Dizziness and fainting are two common PoTS symptoms, in addition to heart palpitations.
  • Positioning of the body When you go from a sitting to a standing position, your heart rate may temporarily increase.
  • Smoking. Smokers have a greater resting heart rate than non-smokers. It is possible to reduce it by quitting smoking.

What is the definition of a dangerous rate?

It's possible that you'll have a heart rate that's faster or slower than usual. This type of bpm imbalance is not always deemed "hazardous," especially when it is being monitored by a doctor.

High heart rate

Tachycardia is a condition in which your heart rate is too fast. A rapid heart rate is described as a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute in adults.
What is deemed too quickly, however, may vary depending on your age and overall health.

Tachycardia comes in a variety of forms. Their classification is based on the source of the condition as well as the part of the heart that it affects. It's possible that tachycardia is only brief.

Some possible causes of tachycardia can include:

  • an underlying health condition
  • anxiety or stress
  • heavy caffeine consumption
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • anemia
  • hormonal problems (i.e., thyroid)
  • fever
  • intense or strenuous exercise or physical activity
  • side effects from medication
  • cigarette smoking
  • certain drug use (such as cocaine)

Slow heart rate

Bradycardia is a condition in which your heart beat is too sluggish. A heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute is commonly referred to as bradycardia.
A heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute is typical and even good for athletes and others who exercise regularly.

Some possible causes of bradycardia include:

  • side effects from medications
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • an underlying health condition
  • being an older adult
  • problems with the conduction system of the heart

Borderline or infrequent bradycardia may not necessitate medical intervention. However, untreated bradycardia or chronic bradycardia might become dangerous.

The primary determiner of what constitutes a hazardous heart rate is usually underlying issues. If you have heart disease, heart failure, or a family history of heart illness, you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you observe a change in your heart rate, since it could be a symptom of a major consequence.

When is it an emergency?

If you suddenly notice a change in your heartbeat that is accompanied by:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness or pain
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • fainting
  • exercise intolerance

It could be an indication of a significant heart problem, and you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan to treat and manage your condition.


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