Lowering the pulse

Normal resting pulses lie between 60 and 80 beats per minute. A high resting pulse can strain the heart in the long run, and it is advisable to lower the pulse rate. It therefore makes sense to measure one’s own pulse regularly in the case of diseases of the cardiovascular system.

There are also certain guideline values for the physical load. They vary for people depending on their age. In the case of existing pre-existing conditions, these values may be specified differently again. It often makes sense to to lower a pulse that is too high, to relieve the heart in the long term.

What is the resting pulse and how is it measured??

The resting pulse or also the heart rate at rest describes the Number of beats that the heart beats per minute without physical activity makes. For the measurement one should sit or lie quietly for several minutes without moving or talking much. This allows the heart rate to slow down to a resting heart rate. Ideally, the measurement should be taken in the morning before getting up.

The easiest way to measure it is on the underside of the forearm, near the wrist on the side of the thumb. This is called radial pulse measurement in the technical language. The index and middle fingers of the other hand are used to feel for the pulse in the small depression. A watch with a second display should be in sight during this process. Now the beats are counted for one minute.

The guideline values for the Resting pulse rates are between 60 and 80 beats per minute. It is important to control these values in the course of time. For this purpose, the pulse should be measured every day at about the same time after a fixed rest period or in the morning, respectively. If the values are permanently above 90, a doctor should be asked for advice. People with a permanently elevated pulse should lower it in the long term.

Why should you lower a high pulse?

High resting heart rate of more than 90 beats per minute put a strain on the heart. A condition with more than 100 beats per minute is considered by physicians to be Tachycardia called. However, a high resting pulse is not a reason to panic at the first measurement. Often elevated values at the doctor’s are due to the excitement caused by the examination or by previous physical exercise. Therefore, the evaluation of resting pulses should be done optimally at home and without unusual events.

If the resting pulse is permanently high, the heart is stressed. According to studies, resting pulses with values above 90 lead to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the one hand, this can be seen in connection with other risk factors such as smoking and obesity, since both factors also increase the risk of such diseases. They also cause a long-term increase in resting heart rate. On the other hand, high resting pulse rates can be the sole risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure.

Long-term studies found twice the risk of death in the long term for resting pulses above 80 to 90 beats per minute. In fact, people with even higher resting pulse rates have a threefold increased risk compared to those with a healthy resting pulse rate.

In the long term, therefore, a resting pulse rate above 80 should be reduced under all circumstances. This does not always require medication. In some cases, however, the lowering of the pulse can be achieved with the help of medication.

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In what cases can the resting pulse suddenly increase on its own?

An increase in the normally healthy resting pulse may occur at times. As a rule, the reasons for this are Infections, Often with a fever, which stresses the immune system and raises the pulse rate. Initially, this is completely normal and should subside as the disease heals.

Also Stress for example at work or in everyday life can increase the resting pulse for a few days. During physical and mental stress the hormone increases Cortisol, which is responsible for an increase in pulse and blood pressure. Only a long-term increase brings risks. However, an increase in resting heart rate is normal for a few days and is not a cause for concern.

Can the resting pulse rate be lowered specifically through physical activity?

The most important measure for non-drug lowering of the pulse is Endurance sports. Competitive athletes can even have a resting pulse rate of less than 40 beats per minute. However, this does not mean that you have to become a marathon runner in order to lower your pulse successfully. For an effective, long-term reduction of the resting pulse by ten to 20 beats per minute, according to sports scientists, all it takes is a Regular physical endurance performance of about 30 minutes on four to five days per week.

It is not important to strain oneself to exhaustion. Rather, it is a matter of maintaining a load within a certain pulse range during the time of training. This range is highly dependent on numerous factors. These include, above all, age, gender and previous illnesses, as well as the individual training goal. With a doctor or experienced fitness trainer, a sensible exercise plan can be put together individually.

A heart rate monitor is recommended to control heart rate during exercise. In this way, optimal results can be achieved and the heart is not unnecessarily stressed. For clear results, however, you need some patience. The reduction takes place in the long term, the body needs several months for the changeover.

How to additionally lower the pulse rate in the long term?

In addition to physical activity, regular, targeted exercise can also reduce the resting pulse rate Relaxation lower the pulse in the long term. It doesn’t matter whether you go to the yoga studio, meditate in other ways, or sit alone on the couch at home for a few minutes. The alternation of physical exertion and rest breaks is particularly effective in maintaining the health of the cardiovascular system.

The change in lifestyle with regard to a healthy nutrition and possibly also a Weight reduction can also lower the resting pulse. Since this is usually achieved with the help of exercise, these two factors are closely related. Abstaining from nicotine, caffeine and alcohol also has an effect.

What drugs are available to lower the pulse?

Beta-blockers and calcium antagonists are the main drugs used to lower the heart rate. They act in different ways in the blood vessels and on the heart, promoting a reduction in pulse and blood pressure. As a rule, they are used primarily for patients with high blood pressure and an accompanying high pulse rate. For people with high blood pressure and normal pulse values, the pulse can drop sharply under these medications. Calcium antagonists are rarely prescribed to lower the pulse alone. This is achieved most effectively by beta blockers. Non-medicinal measures can often be expected to lower the pulse rate sufficiently.

Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Meinertz has been supporting ZAVA since 2020 as a member of the medical advisory board as well as in medical text reviews. The former director of the heart center at Hamburg University Hospital and long-time chairman of the board and current editor-in-chief of the German Heart Foundation now runs an internal medicine practice in Hamburg. In addition to contributing to various textbooks, he has written more than 400 articles published in prestigious journals on.

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