Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Heart Arrhythmia Pulse Check

If you have an arrhythmia, it is important to learn how monitor your pulse at home.

The pulse may be taken in a few locations, but the most commonly used location is the wrist.

Locations for Taking a Pulse

  • Wrist: the radial artery is located in the wrist crease, on the thumb-side. This is an excellent place to measure the pulse.
  • Neck: the carotid artery lies on either side of the Adam's apple, just in front of the large muscle in the neck. Check the pulse on one side only: never press on both carotid arteries at the same time.
  • Elbow: the brachial artery is located in the elbow crease, on the inner aspect of the elbow, next to the bicep tendon.
  • Groin: the femoral artery is located in the crease between the thigh and the abdomen, halfway between the pubic hair and the hip.
  • Ankle: the posterior tibial artery is located on the inside of the ankle, right behind the prominent bone, called the medial malleolus, on the inside aspect of the ankle.

In order to feel the pulse, place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the artery, and then press gently. Do not obstruct the flow through the vessel.

Interpreting Pulse Results
Count the number of pulsations that occur over 20 seconds, and then multiply this number by three. The result is the heart rate, or number of heartbeats per minute.

When measuring the pulse, try to assess the rate and the rhythm. Take note of an unsteady rhythm or extra beats. Report a rapid heart rate or extra beats to your doctor.

Normal Values for Resting Pulse
Age RangeAverage Beats Per Minute
1 month120-130
6 months120-130
1-2 years110-120
2-3 years100-110
4-5 years95-105
6-8 years90-100
10-12 years85-95
14 years75-85

Continue to Heart Arrhythmia Stimulants

Last Updated: Jun 2, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Heart Arrhythmia References
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  3. Rubart M, Zipes DP. Mechanisms of sudden cardiac death. J Clin Invest. 2005 Sep;115(9):2305-15. [16138184]
  4. Stieber J, Hofmann F, Ludwig A: Pacemaker channels and sinus node arrhythmia. Trends Cardiovasc Med 2004 Jan; 14(1): 23-8. [14720471]
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