Resting heart rate: What should it be? Abnormally fast rate is a sign of this condition

As well as being a good way to track your fitness, regularly checking your resting heart rate can alert you to a potential health issue. 

Generally a lower heart rate implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. 

But an abnormally fast heart rate is known as superaventricular tachycardia, which can cause chest pain, dizziness, light-headedness and breathlessness. 

So what should your resting heart rate be? 

Resting heart rate - what it should be

According to the NHS, most adults have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. 

It says: “The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60 bpm or lower. 

“You should contact your GP if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 40bpm, although this could just be normal for you.” 

How to measure your heart rate?

You can work out your heart rate by finding your pulse - your wrist or neck are usually the best places. 

To find your pulse in your wrist: 

Hold out now of your hands, with your palm facing upwards and your elbow slightly bent

Put the first finger (index) and middle finger of your other hand on the inside of your wrist, at the base of your thumb

Press your skin lightly until you can feel your pulse - if you can’t feel anything, you may need to press a little harder or move your fingers around. 

To find your pulse in your neck, press the same two fingers on the side of your neck in the soft hollow area just beside your windpipe. 

What is supraventricular tachycardia? 

The condition is an abnormally fast heart rate of over 100 heartbeats a minute. 

It isn’t life-threatening, and symptoms may not always show. 

But if they do, Bupa lists the signs to look out for: 

  • Palpitations (a thumping in your chest) 
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain 
  • Blackouts (although this isn’t common) 

If you experience any symptoms you should contact your GP as soon as possible. 

These are five things your resting heart rate can tell you about your health. 



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