Taking a Pulse (Heart Rate)

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Taking a Pulse (Heart Rate)

Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats. As your heart pumps blood through your body, you can feel a pulsing in some of the blood vessels close to the skin's surface.

The usual resting pulse for an adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Certain illnesses can cause your pulse to change, so it is helpful to know what your resting pulse is when you are well. To find your resting pulse, count your pulse after you have been sitting or resting quietly for at least 10 minutes.

Check your pulse on your wrist

Picture of taking a pulse (heart rate) on the wrist
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You can easily check your pulse on the inside of your wrist, below your thumb.

  • Gently place 2 fingers of your other hand on this artery.
  • Do not use your thumb, because it has its own pulse that you may feel.
  • Count the beats for 30 seconds, and then double the result to get the number of beats per minute.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised June 17, 2010

Last Revised: April 17, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.