Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats. Your pulse is usually called your heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats each minute (bpm). But the rhythm and strength of the heartbeat can also be noted, as well as whether the blood vessel feels hard or soft. Changes in your heart rate or rhythm, a weak pulse, or a hard blood vessel may be caused by heart disease or another problem.
As your heart pumps blood through your body, you can feel a pulsing in some of the blood vessels close to the skin's surface, such as in your wrist, neck, or upper arm. Counting your pulse rate is a simple way to find out how fast your heart is beating.
Your doctor will usually check your pulse during a physical examination or in an emergency, but you can easily Reference learn to check your own pulse Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. You can check your pulse the first thing in the morning, just after you wake up but before you get out of bed. This is called a resting pulse. Some people like to check their pulse before and after they exercise.
You check your pulse rate by counting the beats in a set period of time (at least 15 to 20 seconds) and multiplying that number to get the number of beats per minute. Your pulse changes from minute to minute. It will be faster when you exercise, have a fever, or are under stress. It will be slower when you are resting.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 26, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine