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How your heart rates and why it matters to know

Article-How your heart rates and why it matters to know

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Being aware of your resting heart rate can help you realise when something in your body isn’t quite right

Did you ever ask yourself why knowing your heart rate is important or why there are more and more people wearing devices such as Apple Watch to monitor it?

You probably all remember that moment you learned how to measure your heart rate by taking your pulse on your wrist or neck. That feeling of taking ownership of your own health and wellness was magical as it would give you instant information about your condition. Being aware of your resting heart rate can help you realise when something in your body isn’t quite right. Now, an Apple Watch, Beats Per Minute (BPM) are just one of the countless metrics your wearable is constantly recording.

Ideal heart rate

Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per unit, usually minute. What is known as pulse, is a bulge of an artery from waves of blood that course through the blood vessels each time the heart beats. The pulse is often taken at the wrist or side of the neck to estimate the heart rate. The heart rate may be too fast or too slow depending on several factors. Normal heart rate varies from person to person and is based primarily on age rather than gender, although men tend to have slightly lower heart rates than women.

Dr Mohammed Fateh Arab, cardiovascular consultant in Dubai at Novomed Clinics shares: “The ideal resting heart rate for adults is 60 to 100 bpm. Healthy young adults or very fit individuals such as athletes may have resting heart rates below 60 bpm. This is because a fit heart has a larger stroke volume; meaning a higher amount of blood is pumped out of the heart per beat, so the number of beats necessary per minute to perfuse the body is reduced while hearts with higher stroke volumes don’t have to beat as frequently to maintain a normal cardiac output. A low heart rate with no other symptoms is usually the sign of a very healthy heart muscle. A consistently low heart rate (below 60 bpm when resting) is known as bradycardia while a consistently high heart rate (over 100 bpm when resting) is known as tachycardia.

"It’s normal to have an elevated heart rate when you’re exercising, stressed, anxious, sick, or have consumed caffeine. However, if your resting heart rate is lower than 60 bpm or over 100 bpm and you’re experiencing chest pain, dizziness, weakness, palpitation, or other concerning symptoms, this could be a sign of a serious underlying issue and you should be consulting a doctor”.

Dr Arab also adds: “Many of my patients have concerns over their heart health and few experience heart's palpitations but by the time they consult they are unable to explain what they have been through; the Apple Watch is the perfect support for such cases as it would constantly monitor your heart rate and send you a push notification if it detects an abnormal elevated or low resting heart rate. This information is then stored under the health app and it is easy to show or share with your cardiologist for further diagnosis.

“When speaking about health ownership and data democratisation, I can’t think of a better contributor than the Apple Watch and do recommend it to my concerned patients. Accessible for all, easy to use and simple to read the Apple Watch has the ability to draw its user's attention on what could be severe or dangerous health issues “

Focus on heart health

In order to promote healthy movement and improve cardiovascular health, Apple has recently launched in the U.S., in partnership with the American Heart Association “The Apple Heart and movement study”. The study will be looking into the connection of heart health and mobility signals by collecting consent data from its Apple Watch user through its Research app to help learn and understand how user’s activity and habits can contribute to a healthier heart.

Undoubtedly, no one needs to be told how important their heart is, but many of us could do with some help looking after ours. Risk of heart disease is dependent on several factors such as age, smoking habits, diabetes, weight, stress and genetics to name a few. But the good news is there are small lifestyle changes such as more physical activities that can considerably lower your risk of heart disease and contribute to better heart health.

Building a healthy heart

It has been proven that there’s a correlation between your heart health and your physical condition. A lot of studies have linked higher resting heart rates with lower physical fitness, as well as higher blood pressure and body weight. Therefore, increasing your aerobic fitness is an essential part of building a healthy heart. The more you exercise, the more you will be able to lower your resting heart rate, helping your lungs and heart become stronger while also considerably reducing your stress level for a better life balance.

You can track your effort on the working app on your Apple Watch and check your heart rate at the same time. You’ll be surprised to see improvements in your heart rate over time. If you don’t have time to hit the gym or play a sport, you can still count on your Apple Watch to encourage you to stand up, take a breath or simply close your rings through your daily routine. These small changes can help you get moving to achieve 150 min of cardio every week – as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

Enisa Glavovic, Nike Run Club Coach and CEO of Wellbeings worldwide consultancy says: “Exercise is essential for optimal heart health and monitoring your heart rate during your fitness routine can be a great help when you know which heart rate zone you should be aiming for. Target heart rates can be used to maximise the efficiency of your workouts, as well as reduce the risk of injury and mental fatigue. Typically, exercising at 60 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate is the most beneficial, while exercising at the lower end of this percentage or doing interval training (where your heart rate goes up and down) is ideal for fat burn. Meanwhile, exercising at the higher end is ideal for building your overall cardiovascular strength.

"Whether it’s to keep an eye on my heart health, set training goals or motivate myself to move more, I count on my Apple Watch to track my efforts and give me clear insights about my heart performance throughout my day to day routine. The Activity app enables me to share my daily movement with friends and also to monitor the running progress of runners within the community, helping them stay on track. For me, the Apple Watch is not only a wearable, it truly is my health companion."

Heart rate monitoring should be important to everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. If you feel the need to change your lifestyle over the long term to acquire a healthier, younger heart; it is maybe worth investing in a fitness and health companion such as an Apple Watch that will not only advise you, encourage you and alert you if something goes wrong but will most importantly respect your choice to share or not your personal collected data by keeping them securely private until you decide otherwise.

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