If you want to know more about your cardiovascular health, here is one big question for you: Do you know what your resting heart rate is?
Your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health — and while some of what it says may seem scary at first, don’t worry! There are ways to improve your cardiovascular health. At Tri-City Medical Center, we see patients with high resting heart rates lower theirs to healthier levels all the time.
Here’s a little background on just what your heart might be trying to tell you.
What Do My Heart Rate Numbers Mean?
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute when you’re not active. The normal range is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is above 100, it’s called tachycardia; below 60, and it’s called bradycardia. Increasingly, experts pin an ideal resting heart rate at between 50 to 70 beats per minute.
One of the most important measurements we can know about ourselves is our resting heart rate. Yet most people don’t know it. They can give you their cholesterol count (usually the total, not the breakdown of HDL and LDL see previous post – How to Improve your cholesterol numbers), but unless the person has recently visited his doctor he will be stumped when it comes to his resting heart rate, or its relevance to his overall health..
WebMD reported, “For most people, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 90 beats a minute,” according to Edward F. Coyle, PhD. The professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin and director of the university’s Human Performance Laboratory, says. “Athletic training can lower that rate by 10 to 20 beats per minute.
“Regular aerobic exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, meaning that your heart pumps more blood each time it contracts, needing fewer beats per minute to do its job.”
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist puts the normal resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. “Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute.”
The upper end of the range is relevant. Gordon F. Tomaselli, MD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, told WebMD, “A number of studies have shown that, even within the normal range, a high resting heart rate is associated with an increased risk for ischemic heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death.”