High Pulse Rate at Rest: What You Need to Know

By | May 31, 2013

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A trip to a physician’s clinic can be disheartening if you find out you have a high pulse rate at rest. You will learn this when your doctor does diagnostic tests such as checking your blood pressure and pulse.

These vital sign measurements provide insight into the efficiency of your circulatory system and can help a doctor determine how hard your heart is working at any given time.

The value of vital sign tests is that the health of your heart (and your overall health) can be determined with a minimally diagnostic test. But what if you have a high pulse rate at rest?

We’ll look at a few causes in this article, but, first let’s turn our attention to the physics of circulatory system.

Good pulse rate

When your heart beats, it sends out blood through your arteries. The arterial expansion can be felt at certain pressure points on the body as a pressure wave.

This wave is your pulse rate and changes based on activity, posture, and emotions. Other factors, including gender, can play a part, as well.

Women, for instance, usually have a higher pulse rate than men. An average woman’s heart rate ranges from 72 to 80 beats per minute, and a man’s average heart rate ranges between 61 to 72 beats per minute.

The pulse rate for a healthy man is around 66 beats per minute when lying down, about 70 bpm sitting up, and about 80 bpm when suddenly standing. During emotional upset or strenuous exercise, the rate can rise between 130 to 180 bpm.

Along with activity and emotional upset, factors that also influence your resting heart rate include fatigue from over-training, smoking, medication, and a host of other disorders.

Your bpm decreases when you are more fit and healthy. The heart does not have to work as hard to supply blood to the rest of the body, which makes it more efficient. As a consequence, you will feel less winded and tired after any physical activity.

The easiest way to improve your resting heart rate is through regular exercise. This will make the heart beat more efficiently, and the circulatory system will pump more blood per beat, which will lower your high pulse rate at rest.

If you manage to get your pulse rate under 60 beats per minute, you have a condition called bradycardia — a slow heart rate.



Endurance athletes strive for this because the resting heart stays low but the heart is strong enough to produce the same cardiac output.

Bradycardia, however, can also be present in people who have very poor blood circulation to their body’s tissues. In this instance, it is often a warning sign of brain edema after there has been trauma to the head.

What causes high pulse rate at rest?

Although I’m not a doctor and not providing any medical advice, I do know that there are a lot of different causes for a high resting heart rate, which is called tachycardia.

Your physician will be able to provide you with the exact diagnostic cause that applies to you, but here is a list of causes that may be applicable to you.

Your resting pulse rate can be affected by age and weight. It can also be affected by problems with an inflamed heart, including myocarditis and pericarditis.

The sinoatrial node also known as the pacemaker of the heart can be dysfunctional and cause your heart rate to operate inefficiently.

Heart valves that are leaking or problems with the heart’s ventricles or atria — the lower and upper chambers of the heart, respectively — will cause the heart to work overtime.

A fever or infection can alter your resting heart rate, along with any hormonal changes in the body.

Diseases and disorders such as hyperthyroidism, emphysema, pneumonia, and a host of others can cause a high heart rate at rest.

Poor blood circulation, which could be caused by a blockage, can cause your pulse to be high.

A constant fast heart rate is a problem and could be a sign that you may soon suffer from heart disease and have a myocardial infraction — a heart attack.

After vigorous exercise, your pulse rate may be high, too. But that’s OK. The rate will decrease shortly thereafter. Most athletes actually aim to decrease their resting heart rate through training.

To get your high pulse rate at rest down, it is important to visit a physician who can determine the exact cause of your problem and provide a plan to solve it. It does not hurt, though, to learn as much as you can about causes of a high pulse rate at rest, though.