How healthy is your heart? Learn at home without any equipment

Your heart plays a key role in your body, delivering oxygen to all your other organs and keeping you alive. This is why it is so important to be a healthy heart in every sense of the word, from yours blood pressure to your cholesterol level and more. While some measuring heart health is best left to the professionalsothers can be easily tested at home.

Take care of your heart health to avoid any problems or detect them at an early stage. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for most racial and ethnic groups in the US, and every 40 seconds someone in the US has a heart attack.

To be clear, we recommend getting your heart checked regularly by a professional. But in the meantime, there are ways to monitor your own heart health yourself, right at home, without any special equipment – ​​all you need is a few minutes and a little math.

Here are two easy ways to measure your heart rate at home without equipment. Plus, learn about the most common signs and symptoms of heart problems to look out for.

Try the stairs test

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Or you shortness of breath while walking up stairs? One 2020 study by the European Society of Cardiology found that you can gauge your heart health by calculating the time it takes you to climb four flights of stairs.

“If it takes you more than 1.5 minutes to climb four flights of stairs, your health is not optimal and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor,” explains study author Dr. Jesus Peteiro, a cardiologist at the University Hospital of La Coruña. Spain

The study compared the results of the stair test and more advanced medical tests of heart health, such as the treadmill test. They found some overlap: According to the study, 58% of patients who took more than 1.5 minutes to complete the stair-climbing test had “impaired cardiac function during the treadmill test.” People who spent less time climbing stairs also had greater physical capacity, which in turn was associated with lower death rates.

Dr. Peteiro also authored a 2018 study in which more than 12,000 participants climbed three flights of stairs. Those who failed to do so quickly were almost three times more likely to die from heart disease within the next five years (3.2% compared to 1.7%).

Notably, both studies looked only at people with symptoms of coronary heart disease. But Dr. Peteiro said that when it comes to measuring exercise, the stair test should work just as well in the general population. Various types of step-by-step tests have long been used by medical professionals to assess heart and lung function.

Check your heart rate

A woman checks her pulse

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your pulse, also known as your heart rate, is a key indicator of heart health, so your doctor or nurse often listens to it during checkups. It’s easy to measure at home without equipment and provides useful information about your heart and overall fitness.

Your heart rate naturally varies throughout the day depending on how much you exercise. For example, in moments of great stress or intense physical exertion, your heart beats faster. When you are relaxed or asleep, it beats more slowly.

There are two types of heart rate that can be measured at home: resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. First, we will consider the meaning of each of them. Then we will explain how to measure.

Heart rate at rest

your “HR in peace” this is your resting heart rate when you are relaxed and still. Research shows that a higher resting heart rate is associated with lower physical fitness, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and death.

What is “low” or “normal” depends on the person. In general, a healthy adult’s heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, but the ranges also depend on age. Here are the target resting heart rate ranges for different age groups:

Age

Target resting heart rate

20 years

100 – 170 beats per minute (bpm)

30 years

95 – 162 bpm

40 years old

90 – 153 bpm

50 years

85 – 145 beats per minute

60 years old

80 – 136 beats per minute

70 years old

75 – 128 beats per minute

Maximum heart rate

In addition to your resting heart rate, you can also measure your heart rate during exercise. This gives you an idea of ​​how fast your heart is beating, when it’s working too hard, and how close it is to your “maximum heart rate”—your highest heart rate. To get your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

In this case, less is not necessarily better. During moderate-intensity exercise, you should aim for 64% to 75% of your maximum heart rate, according to the CDC. And during intense exercise, your heart rate should be between 77% and 93% of your maximum.

Your maximum heart rate depends on your body’s aerobic capacity. Studies have shown that higher aerobic capacity is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and death, according to Harvard Health.

How to measure the pulse at home

There are several places on your body where you can feel your pulse. One of the common and easily accessible places is the radial artery or the wrist.

Simply place your index and middle fingers on the inside of the opposite wrist and count the number of heartbeats you feel in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get your heart rate in beats per minute. (Start the countdown on a measure that counts as zero.)

The best time to measure your resting heart rate is in the morning when you wake up while you are still in bed.

To measure your heart rate during exercise, you will need to pause briefly in the middle of the exercise to measure your heart rate. You can also use a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker, if you have one (the most accurate measurements are given by a chest heart rate monitor).

Know the hidden signs of heart disease

Bearded man with hands on heart

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Many people with cardiovascular disease go undiagnosed until it is too late. Here are some of the most common symptoms of heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, and other cardiovascular emergencies to watch for, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

  • Chest pain, tightness
  • Dyspnea
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or feet
  • Upper back or back pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat (or palpitations)
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Numbness in the legs or arms
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or weakness during physical activity
  • Heartburn, nausea or vomiting
  • faint

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding health conditions or health care goals.

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