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Last updated July 18, 2016 (originally published July 25, 2011)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor
and Featured Columnist and Susan Callahan, Associate Editor
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our panel of Registered Nurses,
Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial Board]




Over 74.5 million Americans now suffer from high blood pressure
(American Heart Association) which is measured by two numbers,
your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. But did you know there’s a
third number to consider that could be a better indicator of serious
health problems than your systolic and diastolic readings? Get a hold
of your heart pulse. What does your heart pulse have to do with your
blood pressure? Is your heart pulse an indicator of how fast your
heart is beating, or does it signify something different? What is a
normal heart pulse and what are the dangers of a high heart pulse?

What’s the Difference Between Heart Rate and Heart Pulse?

Heart pulse is a little tricky to understand because the phrase "heart
pulse" refers to two different, but very closely related, aspects of
your heart and circulation. Depending on the context, heart pulse can
mean heart rate or heart pulse pressure. In this article we’re
interested in heart pulse pressure.

Heart pulse pressure is related to blood pressure. When you have
your blood pressure tested, you get two numbers as a result. The top
number is the pressure your heart exerts when it beats (systolic
pressure), and the bottom number is the pressure in your arteries
between heart beats (diastolic pressure). Your pulse pressure is
simply the difference between these two numbers. For example, if
your blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, your pulse pressure is 40 mm
Hg (120 minus 80).

Heart pulse can also mean the rate at which your heart beats – the
heart rate. Your doctor takes your pulse to check for good health.
Your heart rate is defined by how many times your heart beats per
minute.

You can easily calculate how fast your heart is beating by holding
two fingers to the artery in your wrist, counting the number of beats
in 30 seconds then doubling the figure to get your heart rate. Your
resting heart rate means you take your pulse when you are resting.
You can also take your pulse when you are exercising, to see how
hard your heart is working.

Usually your heart pulse and your heart rate are the same. To see
why, you have to simply imagine you are a tiny traveler in a boat
inside your heart when it beats. As your heart contracts, it causes a
heart beat. This heart beat is a force, the same as a force that causes
a wave in the ocean.  So, once your heart beat, it unleashes a force
which causes a wave of blood to start rippling through your body. If
you are a tiny traveler inside this wave of blood, you would feel your
boat lift and it would be pushed forward by the force of the wave.
Off you go.  You then would travel from your heart down a tunnel --
your arteries --to distant shores maybe your fingers or legs. As you
travel down your arteries, the wave will press against the sides of the
tunnel. Since your arteries are not made of stone but instead are
rubbery, the wave will cause them to "pulse". This pulse is your heart
pulse.

Now, imagine that if your heart beats 70 times each minutes, if your
arteries are flexible, then they too would pulse 70 times a minute.
That's why your heart pulse is the same as your heart rate normally.

Why is heart pulse important? As you age, and if you are overweight
and have a poor diet and exercise habits, your arteries can become
stiff and hardened. When your arteries harden, two things happen.
Your systolic blood pressure 9top number) goes up, and often, your
diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) goes down, which means
that your heart pulse can increase significantly. And high heart pulse
rates have been associated with greater mortality from heart failure.

Symptoms of High Heart Pulse

When your heart pumps blood through your body you feel a small
pulse in the blood vessels that come close to the surface of the skin,
such as in the wrist, neck or back of the knee. This is normal, and
you may be aware of your pulse at times and others completely
forget about it. You may also sometimes
hear your heart pulse in
your ear.

A high heart pulse pressure is often symptom free – just like high
blood pressure, which is why high blood pressure is often called the
silent killer. You may not realize you have a high heart pulse until you
get your blood pressure checked out by a healthcare professional.

If you have a high heart rate you will feel the pulse beating strongly
in your arteries, and you may feel light headed and anxious. Because
high blood pressure, high heart pulse and high heart rate often cause
no symptoms, it’s important to have a regular check from your
doctor to make sure your heart pulse and your heart rate are normal.

What is a Normal Heart Pulse Pressure?


























Healthy and normal heart pulse pressure is considered to be 40 to
60. 40 is ideal. Check out the table below to see where your heart
pulse rate falls on the scale of normal to high.




















































Blood pressure data from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute




Notice how the range for both normal blood pressure and normal
heart pulse is very narrow? Many experts believe heart pulse rate
explains why certain patients with low diastolic pressure are still at
greater risk of heart problems.

The Framlingham Heart Study from the National Heart Lung and
Blood Institute and Boston University (tracking patients since 1948)
explains that, for example, a man with a blood pressure reading of
170/70 mm Hg has
twice the risk of cardiovascular problems than
that of a man with a blood pressure reading of 170/110 mm Hg. This
is because although the first man’s diastolic blood pressure is lower,
his pulse pressure --the difference between the top an bottom
numbers ---is higher.

Does a High Heart Pulse Mean Heart Problems?

If you have a high heart pulse pressure – more than 60 – over a long
period of time you are at greater risk of certain serious heart
problems. In fact, many experts say the pulse pressure is a better
indicator of heart risk than the measurement of systolic and diastolic
blood pressure.

According to a 2000 study from Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital
Broussais, Paris, France, which looked at results from an analysis of
8,000 elderly patients, a 10 mm Hg increase in heart pulse pressure
increased the risk of major heart complications and death by almost
20 percent.

The researchers concluded that in older patients with high blood
pressure, the heart pulse pressure was the major determiner of
cardiovascular risk, not systolic and diastolic blood pressure
readings. A 2002 study from the University of Leuven, Belgium also
found increased pulse pressure was associated with an increased risk
of fatal heart events in hypertensive patients.

A high resting heart pulse indicates damage to the aorta, the largest
artery in your body. The greater your pulse pressure, the stiffer or
more damaged your aorta may be. This stiffness could be caused by
high blood pressure or by
atherosclerosis, fatty deposits on the walls
of the artery.
(Stretching regularly can not only improve your
muscular range of motion, but can also decrease stiffness in your
arteries.)


Anemia and an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can also
increase your pulse pressure. High heart pulse can harm the brain
and the kidneys over time.

A 1999 study from the University of Western Australia, Department
of Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia found pulse pressure is a
strong risk factor for coronary events in untreated hypertensive male
subjects, using data from the MRC Mild Hypertension Trial.  

A 2009 study from University Federico II in Naples, Italy found a
high heart pulse pressure means higher risk of potentially fatal heart
complications in patients with chronic kidney disease. A heart pulse
of over 60 mm Hg was associated with a lower chance of surviving
without suffering a cardiovascular event.

Meanwhile a 2007 study from Cardiovascular Engineering Inc.,
Waltham, Massachusetts, found an increase in pulse pressure is
associated with a risk of new onset atrial fibrillation, a chronic
arrhythmia that is associated with increased risk for death and
stroke. The researchers found that a 20 mm Hg increase in pulse
pressure was associated with a 34 percent increase in the risk of
developing atrial fibrillation.

High heart pulse may also affect your eyes. A 2007 study from the
Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, and Erasmus Medical Center,
Rotterdam, the Netherlands found people with a high heart pulse
may have an increased risk for high-tension open-angle glaucoma.
Researchers looked at 5,317 individuals. A pulse pressure lower than
40 may indicate a poor or weak heart function. It may result from
significant blood loss or be caused by congestive heart failure.

Scary stuff, right? There is a limitation, however. Experts believe that
your age has an important significance in interpreting blood pressure
readings. For patients younger than 45 years of age, diastolic
pressure is seen to be a better predictor of heart risk than pulse
pressure.

How Do You Treat High Heart Pulse?

When you treat high blood pressure, you are treating – and reducing
– your pulse pressure at the same time. You can reduce your blood
pressure by a whole host of natural means – exercise more, eat less
salt, control your diet and try some herbs and natural remedies that
help to reduce blood pressure. (Read more about
natural remedies
that may help you to control your blood pressure.)

Folic acid is particularly effective in lowering your heart pulse. For
example, a 2005 study from the Baker Heart Research Institute,
Melbourne, Australia found 5 mg of folic acid a day for three weeks
reduced heart pulse pressure by 4.7 mm Hg when compared with a
placebo.

Bottom line ---a normal heart pulse and a healthy blood pressure
reading go hand in hand. Make sure your numbers add up.


                                       
                                                   






Related:
Swollen Ankles -Causes and Cures / High Blood Pressure
During Pregnancy-An Ideal Diet / Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure /
Beets Lower Blood Pressure --But There's a Catch / Unclog Your
Arteries -- 10 Natural Remedies / Does Celery Lower Your Blood
Pressure?-A Comprehensive Review/ Top 10 Herbs and Spices to
Lower Your Blood Pressure

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Systolic

mmHg
Diastolic

mmHg
Heart
Pulse
mmHg
Normal
Heart Pulse?
Normal Blood
Pressure
110
90
20
Low
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
110
80
30
Low
Normal
110
70
40
Normal
Normal
110
60
50
Normal
Normal
120
90
30
Low
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
120
80
40
Normal
Prehypertension
120
70
50
Normal
Prehypertension
120
60
60
High
Prehypertension
130
90
40
Normal
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
130
80
50
Normal
Prehypertension
130
70
60
High
Prehypertension
130
70
70
High
Prehypertension
140
90
50
Normal
Stage 1 high blood
pressure
140
80
60
High
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
140
70
70
High
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
140
60
80
High
Stage 1 High Blood
Pressure
160
90
70
High
Stage 2 High Blood
Pressure