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Low heart rate...somewhat concerned

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Old 12-23-2010, 01:23 AM   #1
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Default Low heart rate...somewhat concerned

I got a smart phone a few weeks ago, and I've been trying out apps like a mad woman. One app I got was a heart rate checker. You put your finger tip over the camera, and it counts the pulse. Well I did that several times after laying around (so I'd be sure it was a resting heart rate), and it kept showing up as 48-52bpm. I didn't think much of it since I thought there's no way it would be accurate. Well my hubs tried it, and got 80. He said that he's always had a high side of average heart rate and 80 sounded right. I tried it again, and I was still at 50. So just for kicks and giggles, we used a stopwatch and counted my pulse (two fingers on the neck/carotid artery). We did it several times, watching the stopwatch for a full minute, both of us took turns counting. Every time, I was still around 50. So I have to conclude that 1) that little app is surprisingly accurate and 2) I have a very low heart rate.

I know that very fit people can lower their resting HR, but I wouldn't consider myself very fit. I walk everyday for about an hour, but...that's about it, lol. I eat clean whole foods for the most part, avoid excessive sugar or salt. But I really wouldn't consider myself to be in great shape.

So I am somewhat concerned. Why is my heart rate so low?? Anything below 60bpm is considered bradycardia (low heart rate). I don't really have any other symptoms. No shortness of breath, palpatations, fatigue or anything of that nature. I get fainty sometimes, but it's usually in fairly appropriate situations. Needles and the sight of blood have always made me fainty. Sometimes I get a head rush if I stand up too fast...but nothing that seemed abnormal.

Think I should do anything about it? I generally know enough about anatomy, physiology, and diseases that I know of all the things that could possibly go wrong and I end up stressing myself out. I wish I was more blissfully ignorant on health issues, lol.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:35 AM   #2
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It's probably fitness. A resting heart rate for someone who exercises regularly can be that low.

That said, you may want to get a workup, just in case. They'll check your thyroid levels and make sure that everything is working properly.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:43 AM   #3
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Megan I hope everything is OK.

Can i have the name of the APP so i can check my.... I have never check my thanks.
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:19 AM   #4
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My husband has this issue. He has always had a really low heart rate. It's funny, because every time he goes to a new doctor, the nurse doesn't say anything at first and they check his pulse 4 or 5 times and then ask if he's an avid runner or works out a lot. He always laughs and says no, and just tells them that he's always had a low rate. When he was a teenager and more active, it was really low, like in the 40 to 46 bpm range but now we're in our early 30s and he doesn't work out and it's still about 56 bpm at the highest.

The concerning thing here might be that you haven't known about it until now...you should probably go to your dr and let them know and see what they say. If this was something that you've had your whole life, it seems that someone would have said something to you by now, if you've been to the dr before. Just because every time we go they say something to my hubs about it. If it's a new thing, I would definitely have it checked out, but if it isn't, some people just have low heart rates.

His dr does recommend a cardiological workup at 35 b/c of it to make sure there aren't any complications, but he doesn't have any other limitations or abnormalities because of it.

The fainting/light headed thing would be a blood pressure issue that isn't necessarily directly related to your heart rate. You can have low heart rate and completely normal blood pressure levels. But again, if that's something new, I would definitely get checked out.

Good luck!!! Let us know what happens.
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:32 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies! wfonseca, the app is Instant Heart Rate. I really didn't think it would work very well, but it was practically perfectly accurate for my husband and I.

Mandalinn, I know that fitness can certainly lower resting heart rate. I just always assumed that one would have to be fairly significantly fit, as in a distance runner or something, to actually have it be lowered by much. Again, I'm really not all that fit. I just walk for 30-60 min/day.

And dandimae, I think that's why it's bugging me. I rarely go to the doc (I obviously should more, just for purposes of annual check ups). The last time I had gone was about two years ago and they mentioned that I had surprisingly high blood pressure for a 20yo. I was, of course, shocked, alarmed, embarrassed, etc. I went to Urgent Care a few months ago to be diagnosed/get a script for a UTI. They didn't have my previous records or anything to compare to, but they commented that I had very healthy blood pressure. If they'd bother to comment on my normal blood pressure, why wouldn't they comment on an abnormally low heart rate? I suppose it could appear higher after moving around a bit.

Anyways, since I have no other symptoms I'm not going to do anything about it for the time being. I'm going to the doc soon for a check up and I'll bring it up then.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:27 AM   #6
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I donate blood, and they give you a wellness/vitals screening every time. I've always had a low resting HR, it gets even lower when I am doing even a little bit of cardio. When I was in high school I had surgery and while in the hospital overnight for observation I set off the low HR alarm on my pulse oximeter three times. They had set it to go off at 55bpm, and as I fell asleep my HR was 54. They had to come in and re-set the monitor's alarm to 45, but the doc said it was common in athletes. (I was a cheerleader, oh! how the mighty have fallen.)

Now, as I got older and heavier I was donating blood with an average HR of 65-70, I went in on Monday, 20lbs lighter and with 30 min of cardio 3 times a week, and my HR was down to 56 again.

You're right, if they noticed your healthy blood pressure, they'd have told you to get it checked. I am not a medical professional, but from my understanding of physiology I took in college, a lower HR is desirable, 60 is the average for healthy individuals and ANY cardiovascular conditioning (such as your daily walks, it doesn't have to be vigorous) will improve your efficiency of blood transport, meaning less beats equal the same blood flow per minute. If you don't feel like your heart is fluttering or have that seeing stars/lightheadedness every time you stand up (a sign of low blood pressure) you're most likely healthy and shouldn't worry because your rate is below "average."

Last edited by fromthebox : 12-23-2010 at 08:34 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:30 AM   #7
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Just for reference, I DO consider myself quite fit at this point and I have a resting HR of 46.

I know the body becomes really efficient with the calories we give it. It could be that your heart is really efficient now with your walking and your lowered body weight. But if you're concerned, certainly bring it up with your doctor. My hunch is that you have nothing to worry about, but you should always, always listen to your own gut.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:47 AM   #8
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Just took mine and it's 72...I have been resting a bit, but I was working out on the elliptical and all less than an hour ago. More like 45 minutes. I've taken it first thing in the morning before, and it's around 50-55. My blood pressure is also crazy low sometimes....once in the morning it was 85/70.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:06 AM   #9
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I downloaded it, it was free! yey. Anywho, I did mine 3 times and the average was 59. I guess that's pretty good, lol. I'm just chilling here at my desk, though. I'll have to do my workout later and then check it.

I have an abnormally low blood pressure, also.. To the point that my BFF took me to her nursing class one day, lol. It runs in my family. Before my mom passed away, it was REALLY sucky when I would go to the doctor and they would check it 2 or 3 times, and ask if I had eaten, or if I needed to lay down... Now, since my mom spent 8 months in the hospital before she passed, I have that 'white coat syndrome' and I flip out at the doctors office. At home, it's less. I checked it last saturday and it was 84/65. I felt fine, had worked out and just eaten. I got it from my dad!

If you feel strange about it, I would get it checked out just to set your mind at ease... and that's pretty cool for a free little app! Thanks!
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:12 AM   #10
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Last syear in November, after giving birth to my fourth baby, my RHR was at 35 bpm. That was SCARY! I seen a cardiologist for a few months, took the stress tress. The lady who did the echo, said this is the longest echo I have ever had to preform because my heart was going that s-l-o-w. Now, just slightly over a year later, my resting HR is regularly in the 50's, sometimes dips into the 40's. Sometimes skyrockets into the 70's. Apparently everything is fine.... who knows. It still scares me. Actually, it prevents me a lot from working out lol. I will start a work out routine, then stop because it scares me, then try again in a few months for a few days. I especially hate it when I feel my heart flutter....
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:49 AM   #11
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When I was a teenager (when your heart rate should be somewhat faster based on age) my resting pulse was normally in the 40s. It never caused me any problems, though my doc wanted me to get a life alert bracelet for low vitals because it was impossible to get my pulse from my wrist and excessively hard to get from my neck as well. I also had very low blood pressure, and even obese, it's still low (though it was normal when I was 30 lbs heavier)

Some people are just slow. As my husband likes to tease me. the only thign that has ever really bothered me is that it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to get my heart rate into "training zones" 130? I would have passed out before then! I was lucky to get above 100.
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Old 12-23-2010, 04:56 PM   #12
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at 309 lbs my resting hr was 56.
Now that I'm a runner and lost 125 lbs It's 35.
My Doc says I'm fine, if you are concerned talk to your doc!

Just checked mine it was 44, which is normal for me mid day. At night I get into the 30's. It does seem scary and thats why I went to the Dr's cause I was thinking something was wrong with me, lol. I have had bradycardias in the past here and there so I was set up with a 24 halther monitor to just be sure.
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:41 PM   #13
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do you know how to check your pulse manually? I wouldnt believe a phone app. As a nurse, I have learned that some people just have to have their bp and pulse checked manually. The machines just dont seem to work for everyone for some reason.
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:46 PM   #14
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Resting heart rate will drop as you get fitter and your heart has to work less hard to pump blood to your body (both through weight loss and exercise). However, the absolute number itself doesn't mean much, especially if you're not experiencing any symptoms. One of the most athletic guys on my ultimate frisbee team has a resting heart rate in the 80s, while mine is usually in the high 50s. He doesn't have much body fat and is in great shape, it's just how his body works.
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katkitten View Post
do you know how to check your pulse manually? I wouldnt believe a phone app. As a nurse, I have learned that some people just have to have their bp and pulse checked manually. The machines just dont seem to work for everyone for some reason.
I mentioned in my original post that both my husband and I took turns counting my pulse and watching a stop watch. We used the two fingers on the carotid artery. Generally I wouldn't trust the phone app either, but we both counted my pulse and both counted his pulse...the phone app was accurate for both of us.
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