What's there in a Heart Rate?

July 21, 2023

Life isn't measured in minutes, but in heartbeats

-Joan Lowery Nixon

We may live in dreams, or in memories, in this world or out of this world, in sunshine of the morning or calmness of dusk, in the faceless beauty of friendship or a hopeless scenario of war, but what makes us alive is our heart beat.

Scientifically speaking, the heart as part of the body's cardiovascular system pumps blood throughout the body so that all organs receive oxygen and nutrients and at the same time waste products generated get flushed out. Heart beats or contracts regularly at a fixed interval and the frequency thus calculated per minute is known as Heart Rate.

This contraction of heart produces a waveform in the peripheral blood column which is known as pulse rate and it is an indirect measure of heart rate.

Avid bikers understand that riding is enjoyable when the speed is neither too fast nor too slow. Something similar applies to your heart rate too. Since heart rate is a proxy indicator of your heart function, any compromise can be deleterious on health and the same gets reflected in heart rate too.

Normalcy of heart rate is generally measured in resting state i.e in lying down condition (in a quiet environment for minimum 5 minutes).

A normal resting heart rate is considered to be within 60-100 beats per minute. Resting heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute is termed tachycardia and slower than 60 beats per minute is known as bradycardia.

Fluctuation in heart rate can be a perfectly normal physiological response to certain conditions or drugs in otherwise healthy individuals or they may be a pathological response to an underlying disease or disorder, which may require further investigations or workup. In any case it's important to understand this from a medico-scientific perspective.

An increased heart rate or tachycardia can occur in healthy individuals to vigorous exercises or workout, especially if simultaneous water intake is not proper leading to dehydration, due to coffee or caffeine intake, during pregnancy, heavy alcohol consumption and when a person is excited or nervous. On the other hand, a faster than usual heart rate can be because of pathological conditions linked to the heart like cardiomyopathy, ventricular tachycardia, different kinds of arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, flutter, ventricular fibrillation etc. It can also occur due to asthma, overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), anemia, fever, infections, electrolyte disturbances and medication side effects.

Similarly a decreased heart rate or bradycardia can occur in healthy individuals like athletes or sports persons who are very active physically and during sleep. Pathological bradycardia can be a sign of heart diseases like heart attack, sick sinus syndrome, heart block, bradyarrhythmias, valvular heart disease, myocarditis, pericarditis, infections like typhoid fever, lyme disease, electrolyte disturbances, underactive thyroid gland, hypothermia, certain medications like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, opioids, lithium etc.

How to understand that a doctor consultation is required?

As discussed above, fluctuations in heart rate can be both a normal physiological response or a sign of underlying disease condition. Hence it becomes important that we understand clues that indicate that an expert guidance is needed. In this case any outside range values of heart rate accompanied by any of the following symptoms indicate a need for further workup. These are: fatigue, dizziness, palpitations, confusion, shortness of breath, sinking sensation, chest pain or tightness. It's also advised that when in doubt better reach out to your doctor.

Measuring Heart Rate on Eka Care App

Pulse rate measurement using photoplethysmography technology is available easily on eka care app. This app measures your pulse rate using a mobile camera and its flashlight and the technology has been developed in house in collaboration with the prestigious Father Muller Medical College and Hospital, Mangalore, Karnataka. The measurement gives a fair idea about the heart rate and values can serve as an important early indicator towards a person's health, especially heart health.

Instantly check your heart rate on Eka, Kindly click https://eka.im/heart-rate (Currently available on Android)

More information can be accessed at: https://www.eka.care/services/heart-rate-monitor-app/