A lot of factors are at play when it comes to the health of your heart. From heart rate and blood pressure to cholesterol, all combined with your lifestyle habits and family history … well, let’s just say it can be a lot to keep straight. To complicate matters further, sometimes it can be a challenge to know the difference between facts and myths.
So we’re taking some of the most common myths about heart rate and tackling them head-on. Here are four myths about heart rate, debunked.
Myth No. 1: Faster heart rate always equals higher blood pressure.
The answer to this myth is, “not always.” While your heart rate and blood pressure are connected and do rise and fall together a majority of the time, there are cases where the two may be disconnected — and that may point to a problem. If your blood pressure is rising without your heart rate doing the same, that could point to a problem with high blood pressure.
Myth No. 2: There’s a normal heart rate standard for everyone.
Like most things with your body, your ideal heart rate will be specific and customized to you. While the well-known “standard” normal resting heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute, many doctors prefer between 50 and 70 beats per minute. Your ideal heart rate will depend on lots of individual variables specific to you and your health, so rather than striving for a standard “normal,” talk to your doctor about what your heart rate means for you.
Myth No. 3: An irregular heart rate means I’m in cardiac distress.
Feeling your heart rate seemingly “skip” a beat or speed up without explanation can be a scary. These heart palpitations are typically not dangerous and usually can be easily explained by something you’ve consumed (like caffeine or alcohol), a period of stress or even a medication you may be taking. And while an irregular heart rate by itself doesn’t mean you’re having a heart attack, it still may be worth bringing to your doctor’s attention, especially if it’s accompanied by any breathing difficulties or chest pains.
Myth No. 4: If my heart rate is on the slow side of average, my heart is weak.
While there is certainly cause for concern if your heart rate is too slow — for instance, if it gets so low that you feel dizzy or lose consciousness — but in general, a slower heart rate probably means you’re actually healthier than average. When your heart is in better shape, it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your entire body, so your resting heart rate will be lower.
Hopefully, with these myths debunked, you feel a little more educated about your heart rate. Just remember: Your heart health is not something to be taken lightly, so trust your instincts and make an appointment with your doctor if you think something may be wrong.
Learn more about heart health for men and women in this free download.