The Senior Digest

Health and Wellness Tips

Heart Rate in the Elderly

Heart Rate in the Elderly


The heart, being one of the most important organs of the human body, has various functions that are vital to the human body, among them is the most basic and important function: the heart rate.

Heart rate is defined as the number of times the heart beats in one minute. It is one of the most important functions since the heartbeat causes blood to be distributed throughout the body.

Broadly speaking, oxygenated blood leaves the heart which travels throughout the human body, leaving the oxygen where it passes and collecting carbon dioxide to finish its journey through the human body in the heart.

There the heart pumps blood to the lungs to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and repeat its journey through the human body again.

What is the normal heart rate in the elderly?

It has been determined that normal adult heart rate is between 60 beats per minute and 100 beats per minute while at rest.

If the heart rate is below 60 beats per minute it is called bradycardia and if it is above 100 beats per minute it is called tachycardia.

What happens to people who do not have a normal heart rate?

It is vital to note that there are numerous reasons why the heart rate may be disturbed ; therefore it is especially important to remember that the normal heart rate is obtained while the person is at rest.

What situations can alter the heart rate?

There are several factors that can alter the heart rate, for example:

There are also diseases that can alter the heart rate such as: anemia, fever, previous heart attacks, problems in the sinoatrial node, anxiety, thyroid disorders, Cushing’s disease, among others .

How can I check my heart rate?

Heart rate is one of the easiest vital signs to determine, it is not necessary to use any special device. To check it we will only need a stopwatch and find our Once the pulse is located, the stopwatch should be started while the number of beats felt is counted. It is valid to count the beats for 15 seconds and then multiply everything by 4, but it is advisable to count the felt beats for a full 60 seconds .

As mentioned above, having a normal heart rate is not indicative of being 100% healthy, when palpating our heart rate it is important that it is in rhythm, if it does not have it it is called arrhythmia, when palpating an arrhythmia we must go as soon as possible possible with our physician to further explore the cause.

My heart rate went below 60, what do I do?

The first thing is to rectify that the heart rate is below 60 beats per minute, and if there are accompanying symptoms, for example:

  • Lethargy
  • Fainting.
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness

It is known that older adults suffer normal degenerative changes in humans such as decreased sight or hearing, however, when detecting bradycardia we must go to the doctor to determine if it is due to disease or change in old age.

People who were high-performance athletes in their lives tend to have bradycardias that usually reach up to 40 beats per minute, in these people it is not considered a disease, so it is important to know if our family member has a history related to exercise.

My heart rate is above 100, what should I do?

When detecting a tachycardia, it is important to determine the exact number of heart beats and the situation in which our family member is.

If you were in an environment that caused strong emotions, it is important to calm you down and measure your heart rate again, hoping that it has decreased.

On the other hand, if we observe that our family member is restless or with chest pain, it is imperative to take him to the nearest emergency room.

Feel my heart pulse and it is arrhythmic. Is it serious?

An arrhythmia is never normal in humans and can be caused by factors such as: abnormalities in the sinoatrial node, previous heart attacks, electrolyte imbalance, etc.

At the first moment of palpating an arrhythmia, we must go to our family doctor or go directly to a cardiologist. It’s bad? Yes, as an arrhythmia can trigger other more serious diseases, such as a cerebrovascular event.

That being said, palpating an arrhythmia is no reason to panic and rush to the emergency department; what you should do is avoid strong emotions or stimulating substances (coffee, energy drinks and drugs) and visit our doctor as soon as possible.

Is there a cure for these diseases?

In the case of bradycardias, once medical and laboratory tests have been done, the causative disease will be determined, usually in this group of diseases that cause bradycardia, the treatment is to place a pacemaker, the treating doctor will determine if medication is needed.

Tachycardia events are usually spontaneous and require immediate attention, as it is the most common symptom of a major problem.

During the medical examination, tests are done to check blood pressure and the heart (by means of an electrocardiogram) and depending on the results, drugs to control pressure, heart rate and antiplatelet drugs could be started.

Finally, arrhythmias, like bradycardias and tachycardias, require a thorough medical examination, laboratory tests and the performance of an electrocardiogram.

Depending on the type of arrhythmia, treatment varies from surgical procedures and taking medications to regulate the heart rate.

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