Your pulse is the rate at which your heart
beats. Your pulse is usually called your heart rate, which is the number of
times your heart beats each minute (bpm). But the rhythm and strength of
the heartbeat can also be noted, as well as whether the blood vessel feels hard
or soft. Changes in your heart rate or rhythm, a weak pulse, or a hard blood
vessel may be caused by heart disease or another problem.
heart pumps blood through your body, you can feel a pulsing in some of the
blood vessels close to the skin's surface, such as in your wrist, neck, or upper
arm. Counting your pulse rate is a simple way to find out how fast your heart
Your doctor will usually check your pulse during a
physical examination or in an emergency, but you can easily
learn to check your own pulse . You can check your pulse the first thing in the
morning, just after you wake up but before you get out of bed. This is called a
resting pulse. Some people like to check their pulse before and after they
You check your pulse rate by counting the beats in a set
period of time (at least 15 to 20 seconds) and multiplying that number to get
the number of beats per minute. Your pulse changes from minute to minute. It
will be faster when you exercise, have a fever, or are under stress. It will be
slower when you are resting.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Interactive tools are designed to help people determine health risks, ideal weight, target heart rate, and more.
Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate?
Why It Is Done
Your pulse is checked to:
- See how well the heart is working. In an
emergency situation, your pulse rate can help find out if the heart is pumping
- Help find the cause of symptoms, such as an irregular
or rapid heartbeat (palpitations), dizziness, fainting, chest pain, or
shortness of breath.
- Check for blood flow after an injury or when a
blood vessel may be blocked.
- Check on medicines or diseases that
cause a slow heart rate. Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse every day
if you have heart disease or if you are taking certain medicines that can slow
your heart rate, such as digoxin or beta-blockers (like propranolol or
- Check your general health and fitness level. Checking
your pulse rate at rest, during exercise, or immediately after vigorous
exercise can give you important information about your overall fitness