You can have a perfectly normal heart rate but still suffer from heart rhythm disorders. What is the difference between the two? And how do you check your heart rate and your heart rhythm?
Your heart rate: changes throughout the day
Your heart works like a pump: its contractions push blood throughout your body. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart contracts (beats) per minute. This is often expressed in BPM – ‘beats per minute’.
A heart rate varies from person to person. It also changes throughout the day. Are you sitting, lying or sleeping? Then your heart beats about 60 to 100 times per minute. But during exercise or stress, the rate automatically increases. Your heart ‘knows’ it has to pump extra oxygen and nutrients through the body.
Did you know?
People in good physical shape have a lower resting heart rate than people who are less fit. For top athletes for example, a resting heart rate of only 30 to 40 beats per minute is quite common.
Checking your heart rate
What is your heart rate? You can easily check it yourself. You can feel your heartbeat clearly on your chest or at the arteries in your neck or wrist. Just count the number of beats for one minute. Or use a sports watch, heart rate monitor or one of the many lifestyle apps that are available online.
Your heart rhythm: as regular as possible
Your heart rhythm is the rhythm at which your heart beats. It will learn whether those beats come regular (or not). Suppose you have a heart rate of 80, then your heart should beat every 0,75 seconds.
Your heart rate varies constantly. But your heart rhythm should remain regular throughout the day.
An unregular heart rhythm is what we call a heart rhythm disorder. Occasionally your heart can skip a beat, this is called an ectopic beat. Or your heartbeats follow each other rapidly during a short period of time and then slow down again.
An example to make it clear. This graph shows the same heart rate twice.
- The rhythm in the top line is regular. Each heartbeat is equally far apart, all peaks are equally high and wide (this is the so-called sinus rhythm).
- The second rhythm is irregular. In the beginning 3 heartbeats follow each other very quickly, between the last 2 heartbeats more time passes.
In both cases, the heart beats 60 times per minute. Although the heart rate’s the same, that cannot be said about the heart rhythm.
Checking your heart rhythm
Measuring your heart rate is quite easy. Measuring your heart rhythm on the other hand is way more complicated. At least it was. You had to make an appointment with your doctor or cardiologist for an electrocardiogram (ECG), a measurement through a number of electrodes on your body. Unfortunately, this examination is a snapshot. Deviations that don’t occur at the time of the examination don’t pop up on the radar.
Enter FibriCheck, a certified medical app that guarantees regular screening through the camera of your smartphone. Simple, fast and reliable.