d. When the pulse is being counted, the rate, rhythm, and volume (force) should
(1) Rate may be noted as normal, fast (tachycardia), or slow (bradycardia).
An average pulse rate for a resting adult is 70-80 bpm (beats per minute). Rates faster
than 100 bpm are considered to be tachycardia. Rates slower than 60 bpm are
considered to be bradycardia.
NOTE: A well-trained athlete may have a resting pulse of less than 50 bpm.
(2) Rhythm is the regularity of the pulse beats. Rhythm is described as
irregular when you can feel the pulsations occur at different rates. A normal rhythm has
the same time interval between the beats.
(3) Volume is the force or strength of the pulse. Terms used to describe the
volume (force) of the pulse are weak, thready, or feeble for a pulse that lacks strength,
and strong, full, or bounding for a pulse that feels forceful. Additionally, the force may
be regular or irregular.
e. There are many factors that affect the pulse rate. Some are listed below.
Sex. Women have a slightly faster pulse rate than men.
(2) Age. The pulse rate gradually decreases from birth to adulthood then
increases with advancing old age.
(3) Body temperature. The pulse rate generally increases 7-10 beats for
each degree of temperature elevation.
(4) Digestion. The increased metabolic rate during digestion will increase
the pulse rate slightly.
Pain. Pain increases pulse rate.
Emotion. Fear, anger, anxiety, and excitement increase the pulse rate.
(7) Exercise. The heart must beat faster during exercise to meet the
increased demand for oxygen.
(8) Blood pressure. In general, heart rate and blood pressure have an
inverse relationship. When the blood pressure is low, there is an increase in pulse rate
as the heart attempts to increase the output of blood from the heart (cardiac output).
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