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Feel the Beat of Your Resting Heart Rate

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Looking for a simple way to gauge your health that you can perform at home? Measuring your resting heart rate is a great way to monitor basic heart health, because resting heart rate (RHR) is a good indication of heart muscle function. To test RHR, place your index and middle finger of your wrist directly below the thumb or on one side of your neck. Count the beats for 30 seconds, then double it. This will give your RHR for one minute. A normal, healthy range should be between 60-to-100 beats per minute (BPM). Because several factors can influence your RHR, like circulating hormones, stress and anxiety, and certain medications, you'll want to ensure accuracy when measuring. Here are three ways to refine your test:
  1. Don't measure your RHR within one to two hours after exercise or a stressful event.
  2. Wait one hour before measuring, if you've recently consumed caffeine.
  3. Do not take the reading after sitting or standing for a long period.
In addition to indicating heart health, your RHR can be used to identify potential health problems. So how exactly do you interpret your RHR results? A lower RHR indicates a higher degree of fitness and a lower risk of heart attacks. On the contrary, a high RHR can mean potential heart problems in the future. An RHR near the top of the 60-to-100 range increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. In a 2013 study published in The BMJ, cardiovascular health of 3,000 men was tracked over a period of 16 years. It was concluded that a high RHR was linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight and levels of circulating blood fats. There is also a greater risk of premature death - an RHR higher than 90 triples that chance. Another study in 2015 showed that a higher RHR is linked to a greater risk of diabetes. An additional 10 BPM was associated with a 23 percent increase in diabetes risk. Dr. Jason Wasfy, Director of Quality and Analytics at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center, recommends checking your RHR a few times a day at different points. If your RHR is routinely high throughout the day, it might be time to contact a doctor.
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