Welcome to Healthy Dudley. This is the new public health website.

Check Your Pulse

Checking your pulse is an easy way to detect any abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. Your heartbeat is controlled by electrical impulses that start from a site in your heart muscle. If there is a problem with this site, it can cause a fast heartbeat and/or an irregular heartbeat.

Arrhythmias cause at least 100,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in the UK; over 250 every day.

Your heart may be beating fast or slow compared to others, but as long as you feel well then this is normal for you. However, if your heartbeat is less than 50 beats per minute or more than 120 you should see your doctor to make sure all is well.

But – if your heart is beating irregularly, that is, beats felt at different intervals and strengths, this can lead to the formation of blood clots that may cause a stroke. You should always see your GP if you have an irregular heartbeat even if you feel well. Some symptoms you may feel are:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Fainting for no apparent reason
  • Chest pain

As an irregular heartbeat significantly increases your risk of stroke, the minute that you spend checking your pulse could save your life.

At the age of 40, we all have a 25% lifetime risk of developing AF (Atrial Fibrillation). People with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke.

To check your pulse, see the following video from the Arrhythmia Alliance: