Understanding your heart health and risks starts with knowing the facts. There are a lot of misconceptions about elevated heart rate; three of the most common myths about heart rate are debunked below.
Myth 1: There are hard and fast number targets for heart rate
It’s true there are guidelines for a normal heart rate range; for most, a “normal” resting heart rate falls between 60-100 beats per minute (BPM). But a healthy heart rate can look very different in different people. For example, a professional athlete may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 BPM, and that’s perfectly healthy, too.
That’s not to mention that an individual’s heart rate can fluctuate throughout the day, as well. Lots of things can affect heart rate, including activity level, air temperature, standing vs. sitting, emotions, body size and some medications.
Myth 2: Low heart rate is always a sign something is wrong
As mentioned above, an athlete or someone who exercises vigorously may have a lower resting heart rate than the general population. In fact, a low heart rate is often a sign that the person is in really good physical shape. And, a recent large study in China found that the higher someone’s resting heart rate is, the shorter their lifespan is likely to be. Luckily, just 15 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise can help reverse lifespan loss.
Myth 3: Heart rate is always tied to blood pressure
Heart rate and blood pressure often rise and fall together, but they aren’t always linked. Just because your heart rate rises doesn’t mean your blood pressure will, and vice versa. However, in many cases, there may be an underlying medical condition when heart rate and blood pressure rise and fall independently of each other.
Establishing your baseline
Everyone is different, and “normal” heart rate varies from person to person. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor to establish your baseline resting heart rate. You’ll be able to better monitor fluctuations in your heart rate if you know what your “normal is.” While high heart rate is not indicative of a problem in and of itself, you should seek medical attention if your high heart rate is accompanied by fainting, dizziness or shortness of breath.