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When does a person’s heart rate become dangerous?

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When does a person’s heart rate become dangerous?

Cardiology | by Dr. Ashok B Malpani | Published on 18/01/2024


Do you experience irregular heart rhythms or shortness of breath? Then, you need to get medical help immediately. If your heart rate suddenly increases or goes down, then it indicates some serious underlying health concern. Heart health is very important and you must not overlook the signs it keeps giving. You must keep yourself well-informed about the normal resting heart rate and abnormal heart rate to avoid serious complications.

If you notice heart-related symptoms often, then you must book your appointment with the highly qualified and skilled cardiologists in Kolkata at BM Birla Heart Research Centre, the only cardiac services in the Eastern region.

For your better comprehension, we will talk about everything in this blog that’s related to heart health. However, kindly note that we do not construe the cardiologist's consultation in any way and it is for informational purposes only.

What’s a Normal Resting Heart Rate?

An adult's normal resting heart rate is an important measure of cardiovascular health. Keeping an eye on your resting heart rate helps in offering important information about your general health. Better cardiovascular fitness and a more efficient heart are often represented by a lower resting heart rate. It's vital to remember that there are individual differences and that stress, medicine, and age can all have an impact on resting heart rate. Regular health check-ups on this indicator help you lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Normal resting heart rate for adults

Adults usually have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). This baseline evaluation offers information on cardiovascular health by indicating the number of heartbeats during rest. People who exercise often or who are highly fit may have a lower resting heart rate indicating that their hearts function efficiently. However, there may be variations from this range as a consequence of things such as aging, stress, and health issues. Additionally, being a useful indicator of one's cardiovascular fitness and possible health hazards, monitoring and maintaining a healthy resting heart rate is important to overall heart well-being.

Normal resting heart rate for kids

Children's resting heart rates differ depending on their age. The usual range for newborns (0–12 months) is between 100 and 160 beats per minute (bpm). Preschoolers (3-5 years) often range from 80-140 bpm, while toddlers (1-2 years) have a lower range of 90-150 bpm. Children (6–12 years old) usually have a resting heart rate between 70 and 120 beats per minute. These figures may change depending on certain factors like general health, emotional state, and physical activity. It is vital to prioritize a child's resting heart rate can offer valuable information about their cardiovascular health, and any notable variations must be assessed by a medical expert.

Factors that can affect Resting Heart Rate

The dynamic attribute of cardiovascular health is determined by several factors that might affect resting heart rate. Here are these factors: 

  • Physical Fitness: A lower resting heart rate usually is an indication of a more effective cardiovascular system and is attained by regular exercise.
  • Age: As people age, their resting heart rates usually drop from greater levels in younger people.
  • Stress and worry: There is a direct correlation between mental health and cardiovascular health, as demonstrated by the fact that emotional stress or worry can momentarily increase heart rate.
  • Caffeine and Stimulants: Drinking coffee or using some other stimulants leads to a sudden increase in resting heart rate.
  • Medication: Certain drugs, like bronchodilators and decongestants hugely affect heart rate.
  • Dehydration: When the body doesn't have sufficient fluids, the heart has to beat faster increasing the resting heart rate.
  • Sleep Quality: Insufficient or poor sleep also increases resting heart rates, highlighting the importance of getting enough good sleep.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Heart issues, anemia, thyroid issues, and other ailments have a direct effect on resting heart rate.
  • Temperature: The body's physiology can be impacted by extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, which may have an impact on heart rate.
  • Body Position: Different body positions have different resting heart rates. For example, lying down tends to result in lower resting heart rates than standing or sitting.

What is the maximum Heart Rate?

When engaging in strenuous physical activity, the maximum heart rate (MHR) is the highest number of heartbeats per minute. A common formula for assessing it is 220 minus your age. Individual differences can exist, though, so this method might not work for everyone. Target heart rates for effective cardiovascular training are categorized in part by MHR, a critical metric in exercise prescription. Understanding your maximum heart rate (MHR) allows you to modify your exercise regimen to maximize fitness gains without going overboard. Never start a new workout regimen without first consulting a healthcare professional.

What is a dangerous Heart Rate?

Although everyone's threshold for a dangerous heart rate is different, irregular heart rhythms or sustained rates much higher than 100 beats per minute at rest are identified to be dangerous. A resting heart rate of less than 60, or bradycardia, can potentially be dangerous. Heart rates that are extremely slow, rapid, or irregular indicate underlying issues that need to be assessed medically for the right diagnosis and course of treatment.

When is it an emergency?

When the heartbeat becomes exceedingly fast or reaches dangerously high levels, a heart rate emergency happens. Adults who constantly rest at or below 40 beats per minute or above 120 beats per minute are identified to be in a serious condition. Additionally, it is recommended that you should get help right away if you experience:

  • Severe chest discomfort
  • Dyspnea 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Irregular cardiac rhythms.

These events indicate serious cardiac problems, and getting help quickly is vital to determine and treat the underlying reasons.

How to check your Heart Rate?

Find your pulse on your wrist or neck to determine your heart rate. For 15 seconds, count the beats with your index and middle fingers. Then, multiply the result by 4 to get the beats per minute. For quick and precise readings, use a heart rate monitor alternatively. Monitoring your heart rate regularly helps to maintain good cardiovascular health and fitness levels.

What factors increase Heart Rate?

Here are some factors that hugely affect the increased heart rate:

  • Physical Activity: Heart rate naturally increases by exertion and exercise.
  • Stress: Stress on an emotional level leads to the release of adrenaline increasing heart rate.
  • Fever: A temperature increase causes the heart rate to increase.
  • Dehydration: Blood volume is decreased by inappropriate fluid intake causing the heart to beat more quickly.
  • Medication: Certain medications like decongestants and stimulants increase heart rate.
  • Thyroid Problems: Increased heart rate may be caused by hyperactive thyroid glands.
  • Anemia: The heart beats rapidly due to the blood's decreased ability to deliver oxygen. 

When to see a doctor

It is important to see a doctor immediately if you experience chronic chest pain, dyspnea, abnormal heartbeats, or unexplained lethargy. In addition, if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or other risk factors in your family, get medical help. Immediate evaluation assists in determining and treating probable cardiac problems, preventing more severe consequences.


In a nutshell, heart rate awareness and monitoring are important to preserve cardiovascular health. Stress reduction, regular exercise, and medical appointments are all methods that help in putting heart health first to contribute to overall well-being. Keep yourself well-informed, pay attention to your body, and take preventative measures to maintain a healthy heart and a long, vibrant life.



How dangerous is heart rate?

An unusual heart rate is important to notice as it can dangerously be life-threatening. According to health experts, if the heartbeat reaches above 120-140 per minute or even reduces to 60 beats per minute, it is identified to be a serious problem, and doctor’s interference is required in such a case.

How many times does the heart beat in a minute?

A normal heartbeat that is at rest should beat not more than 60-100 per minute. 

Is pulse rate and heart rate the same?

No, pulse rate and heart rate are not the same but there is a connection certainly. The heart rate is determined by how fast the heart is beating, whereas the pulse rate is measured to feel the heart rate as it involves squeezing and propelling blood through the arteries network in the body.