- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Relationship between Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
The rate of the heart beat and the blood pressure are two important measurements to assess the health and wellness of the heart. Normally, the heart rate measures how fast the heart has to work in order to supply the body with oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. A fast heart beat at rest may indicate weakened cardiac muscle that has to compensate with pumping blood faster. Unless the person is an athlete, a slow heart beat may be indicative of an enlarged heart that is straining to pump blood through an oversized organ.
Heart Rate vs. Blood Pressure
Heart rate and blood pressure are known as vital signs. Measuring pulse rate does not indicate a direct relationship to blood pressure. Each vital sign must be measured separately because each result describes different information about the heart and blood vessels. For people with high blood pressure, taking their pulse rate does not replace taking the blood pressure, and for others who have heart arrhythmias, blood pressure does not always indicate the stability of the heart rhythm. Each vital sign must be measured independently and as accurately as possible to define the parameters of a healthy heart and circulatory system.
Always Take Both Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Measurements as Directed by Your Physician
Elevated Heart Rate during Exercise
The pulse rate increases during exertion of the body to meet increased oxygen demands during exercise. A healthy heart will not increase the blood pressure, but will cause the arteries to dilate and accommodate the increase of blood flow to the lungs. Known as the recovery time, the amount of time it takes for the heart rate to recover from exercise is measured in seconds to minutes. For instance, after jogging, a person with a heart rate at 120 beats per minute (BPM), recovers their normal heart rate at 77 BPM in less than a minute. Heart rate should also be evaluated by the steady rhythm and force of the beats. The healthier the heart, the faster the pulse will return to a normal resting state. Although this measurement is not completely conclusive by itself, recovery time can be used to assess fitness level of the body.
Blood Pressure and the Heart Muscle
The vital sign that indicates how hard the heart is working is the blood pressure. The top number, or systolic number, indicates how much pressure is created by the heart muscle as it pumps blood to the lungs and body. The bottom number, the diastolic, is how much pressure exists in the heart at rest, or between beats. If the diastolic is over 80, the heart is not resting well and an elevated pressure can cause heart and blood vessel disease overtime. Blood pressure is not dependent on the heart rate and needs to be taken on a regular basis or as indicated by a physician.
Situations Where Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Correlate
When a patient is experiencing a medical health crisis, such as in hemorrhage, stroke, or heart attack, the heart beat may slow down due to the failure of the heart muscle to contract or too much blood has been lost. Dangerous heart arrhythmias may cause long pauses in the contraction of the heart muscle and blood pressure drops rapidly causing the patient to faint. In these cases, the heart rate is directly dependent on the blood pressure and vice versa.
Overview of the Relationship of Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
A healthy heart will support heart rate and blood pressure independently and the two measurements do not correlate with each other. Under normal circumstances, the heart muscle can support blood pressure regardless of heart rate, and both vital signs must be taken separately to measure the health of the heart. People under a physician’s supervision should take blood pressure and heart rate as often as instructed. Never assume blood pressure or heart rate is normal without testing both vital signs.
eHealer is an expert author and professional nurse with a masters degree in nursing research. With over 25 years experience as a registered nurse in patient care and nursing education, eHealer has written valuable online information for the past 12 years on health and wellness, scientific research and chronic disease. eHealer continues a philosophy of providing responsible, factual, and evidenced-based information that provide health consumers with the best health information to make useful and important healthcare decisions.