Updated: Oct 28, 2021
By OnSky Health
As we age our heart rate changes, which can indicate a change in our overall health. A typical adult resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM). Experts say that a healthy heart beats 60-80 times per minute. However, there are also cases where your heart rate is slower or faster than average. It is important to know what heart rate is normal for yourself and your loved ones to detect and act on any changes that could be life threatening.
Faster than normal heartbeat
There are many reasons why your heart beats faster than normal, such as exercise, drinking caffeinated beverages, stress, anxiety, high fever or hyperthyroidism. The use of alcohol, or other stimulants also increases your heart rate. When the heart rate is above 100 BPM at rest it is called tachycardia. If your resting heart rate is above 120 BPM, you should see a doctor as this could signify an abnormality.
Slower than normal heartbeat
Bradycardia is when the heart beats very slowly at rest (below 60 BPM). The heart is likened to a muscle mass. When you regularly exercise your heart muscle will get stronger and your resting heart rate may decrease. So even if your heart rate is reduced, the heart muscle will be strong enough to push enough blood through the body. For example, while it’s normal for an athlete to have a resting heart rate below 40 BPM, this indicator is abnormal for other people.
When the heart beats too fast (>100 BPM), too slow (<60 BPM), or with a skipping (irregular) rhythm, a person is said to have an arrhythmia. This disease is more common in men (70%) than women (30%). Arrhythmias, which occur when the heart's electrical impulses don't work properly, are classified based on three factors: frequency, ventricular and atrial dysfunction.
Common types of arrhythmias:
Regular tachycardia: supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia
Regular bradycardia: sinus node failure, atrioventricular block
Intermittent irregular rhythm: double beat, triple beat, etc.
Complete arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation
There are many causes of arrhythmia such as:
Psychological disorders, stress, strenuous labor, heavy use of stimulants
Cardiovascular diseases: Myocardial ischemia, heart valve diseases, myocarditis, congenital heart defects
High blood pressure, dyslipidemia, diabetes, obesity, hyperthyroidism, anemia, electrolyte disorders and drug use
Arrhythmia can be a manifestation of many dangerous diseases and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Some types of arrhythmias to watch for:
Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Some types of arrhythmias can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, with the most common being a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. Additional conditions that cause sudden cardiac arrest include:
Coronary artery disease
Heart valve disease
Congenital heart disease
Acute myocarditis caused by bacteria, viruses, bacterial toxins, drugs, toxins
Other causes of cardiac arrest:
Drug overdose, drug poisoning, food poisoning
Severe bleeding (called hypovolemic shock) – loss of large amounts of blood
Hypoxia - occurs when the amount of oxygen in the body is severely reduced