The key difference between heart rate and pulse rate is based on their definitions. Heart Rate is the rate at which the heart contracts and relaxes. In contrast, Pulse rate is the rate at which the artery expands and contracts when blood passes.
Heart rate and pulse rate are often confusing as they are more or less similar. Heart rate refers to the rate of heart contraction and relaxation. However, the pulse rate initiates at heart, when the heart muscles start contracting and relaxing. Therefore, pulse rate refers to the artery contraction and expansion when the blood passes. Hence, there is a minute difference in the rates of both. Both measure around 60 – 100 beats per minute in a healthy individual.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Heart Rate
3. What is Pulse Rate
4. Similarities Between Heart Rate and Pulse Rate
5. Side by Side Comparison – Heart Rate vs Pulse Rate in Tabular Form
What is Heart Rate?
Heart rate also referred to as the heartbeat, is the rate at which the heart muscles contract and relax when the blood exits and enters the heart. An average healthy adult has a heart rate of 60-80 beats per minute. But, with age, the heart rate may increase from 60 -100 beats per minute. Generally, the heart rate of women is higher than males. A heart rate monitor or an Electrocardiogram (ECG) machine is used to measure the heart rate. The contraction and relaxation of cardiac muscles is an involuntary action and takes place rhythmically. The cardiac muscles never get fatigue until death.
Moreover, many factors affect the heart rate. Some of the factors are exercises, stress, injury, illnesses and diet patterns. Furthermore, the heart rate also differs with age and gender. If a person has a heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute, the condition is referred to as Tachycardia. In contrast, the state where a person has a heart rate less than 60 beats per minute is referred to as Bradycardia. Pulse is initiated following the heart beating. Therefore, the heart rate and the pulse rate show similar values in healthy individuals.
What is Pulse Rate?
Pulse rate is the rate at which the arteries contract and relax when the heart ejects the blood. Pulse rate can be measured at certain points in the body such as neck and wrist by feeling the pulse, which is known as palpation.
Hence, in healthy individuals, the pulse rate should be similar to the heart rate. Approximately normal pulse rate is 70. We can use a pulse meter or an infrared monitor to measure the pulse in addition to the conventional method of palpation. Pulse rate also changes with factors such as exercise, stress, illness and injury. Pulse rate and the heart rate differ in subjects with abnormal cardiac conditions.
What are the Similarities Between Heart Rate and Pulse Rate?
- We can observe the heart rate and pulse rate until the death of an organism.
- The action of the cardiac muscle initiates both the heart rate and pulse rate.
- Also, they change with factors such as exercise, stress, injury, illness, age and gender.
- Moreover, both are in a similar range in healthy individuals.
- Besides, both are involuntary actions which take place rhythmically.
What is the Difference Between Heart Rate and Pulse Rate?
The contraction of the heart results in a heartbeat. The heart beat forces blood to pass through the arteries. The forcing of the blood to pass through the arteries results in the formation of the pulse. A pulse is the expansion and contraction of an artery. Hence, when cardiac muscles contract and relax, heart rate occurs while when the arteries contract and relax in response to blood flow, pulse rate occurs. This is the key difference between heart rate and pulse rate. Method of measurement is another difference between heart rate and pulse rate. That is; heart rate is measured by an ECG machine or heart rate monitor while the pulse rate is measured by the pulse meter or infrared monitor.
Below is an infographic on the difference between heart rate and pulse rate.
Summary – Heart Rate vs Pulse Rate
The confusion between the terms heart rate and pulse rate can be solved based on its definition. Heart rate refers to the contraction and relaxation rate of the cardiac muscles. In contrast, pulse rate refers to the contraction and relaxation rate of the arteries following the entry of blood into arteries. Pulse initiates following the heart beating. Therefore, the heart rate and the pulse rate are similar in healthy individuals. Both are dynamic and change rapidly with factors like exercise, stress, injury and illness. This summarizes the difference between heart rate and pulse rate.
1. “Heart Rate Monitoring & Pulse Measurement: Max & Target Heart Rate.” WebMD, WebMD. Available here
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