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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Pulse Rate: Results and Values

Pulse Rate

Alternate Names : Heart Rate

Pulse Rate | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

What do the test results mean?

Normal values for the pulse rate depend on the person's age and fitness level. The pulse should be regular, meaning that the time between pulsations is the same. Some examples of normal pulse rates, in beats per minute (bpm)are:

  • children less than 1 year old: 100 to 160 bpm
  • children between 1 and 10 years old: 70 to 120 bpm
  • people more than 10 years old: 60 to 100 bpm
  • trained athletes: 40 to 60 bpm
  • Abnormal pulse rates can be:

  • a slow pulse, called bradycardia
  • a fast pulse, called tachycardia
  • an irregular pulse, with beats coming at varying intervals
  • A pulse can be abnormally slow or fast, and irregular at the same time.

    Slow pulse rates:

  • can be normal in well-trained athletes
  • can indicate an electrical problem inside the heart, often called an arrhythmia. For example, an electrical problem known as third degree heart block may cause a slow pulse rate.
  • can indicate low thyroid hormone levels, called hypothyroidism
  • can be caused by several medications, such as atenolol or diltiazem, which are both often used to treat high blood pressure
  • can be caused by other conditions, such as increased pressure inside the skull, often called increased intracranial pressure
  • Fast pulse rates:

  • occur normally during and after exercise
  • can indicate an electrical problem in the heart, often called an arrhythmia. For example, an electrical problem called atrial tachycardia may cause a fast pulse rate.
  • can be caused by many other conditions, including fever, dehydration, fear, hormone problems, and heart defects. For example, a high thyroid hormone level, or hyperthyroidism, can cause a fast pulse rate. A heart defect known as teratology of Fallot may also cause a fast pulse rate.
  • An irregular pulse often indicates an electrical problem in the heart. This may be normal for a given person or may indicate a life-threatening problem. For example, irregular pulse rates can be due to a heart attack or enlargement of the heart.

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    Pulse Rate: Preparation & Expectations


    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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