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Sharp Health News

Fast resting pulse may increase chance of heart attack

Sept. 19, 2015

Fast pulse and heart issues

If your heart is on fast-forward while you’re on pause, read on. A high resting heart rate — your pulse when you’re not moving — may signal an increased risk for heart attack, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The study provides evidence that a woman’s heart rate can help predict her risk for a heart attack.

Researchers have long known that an elevated resting heart rate in men increases their risk for heart attack. But similar evidence in women was lacking. So researchers assessed the resting hearts of more than 129,000 women and found that higher resting heart rates were associated with a close to 25 percent increase in the risk for heart attack or heart-related death.

Take 10 seconds to check your rate

Do you know your resting heart rate? It’s fast and easy to calculate. Here’s how:

  1. Turn your hand so that your palm is facing up.
  2. Place your index and middle fingers of the other hand on your wrist, just below the base of your thumb. You should feel your pulse.
  3. Count the beats for 10 seconds; multiply this by six to get your resting heart rate for a minute.

According to the American Heart Association, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute; it’s typically lower in people who are fit. However, the BMJ study found that women ages 50 to 64 with a resting range above 76 were at the highest risk for heart attack and heart-related death during the study’s eight-year follow-up period.

Kick the ‘work’ out of workout

How can you put your high heart rate to rest? Get your heart going on a regular basis. Exercise is one of the best ways to lowering your resting heart rate.

If your resting heart rate is consistently higher than 100, call your doctor for a consultation. If it’s toward the higher end of the normal range — between 60 to 80 beats per minute or 60 to 76 beats if you’re a woman over 50 — it’s time to increase your physical activity. But not to worry, exercise doesn’t have to be a drag. Here are some ideas to get you moving:

  • Sign up for a fitness class at your community center. Dance lessons are a fun way to get active. Add a little spice to your life with something exotic, like belly dancing, Bollywood dance or salsa.
  • Work out with an exercise DVD or use an on-demand streaming service — which allows the fast and convenient download or streaming of a wide variety of programs to your computer, tablet or TV for a fee.
  • Explore your community. Take a fast-paced walk or hike to discover the nooks and crannies of your neighborhood you’ve yet to see. Even better, ask a friend to join you.

Knowing your resting heart rate and ways to lower and keep it in the healthy range is the key to preventing heart attack. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns. And then get moving!

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