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Relationship between Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Updated on September 19, 2012
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

About eHealer

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.

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    • the clean life profile image

      Mark Bruno 4 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      Deborah, what a great hub with so much valuable information for all of us. Great job on this !!.

      Voted Up, useful and interesting. have a great Holiday !

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Clean, you have a great holiday to. Thanks for your kind words and confidence.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I enjoyed the article very much, there's nothing quite like a factual article with a sprinkling of humor!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Thooghun, I enjoyed yours as well, I need to brush up on my Italiano. Thanks for your comments.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Please tell my doctor, who insists on testing my blood pressure when I am excited.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      How bizarre is that? Most people experience an increases BP just for being in the Doctor's office, why would he want to increase that effect? Thanks for stopping by Mhatter, I really love your limericks, see ya soon!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This was very useful information. Stress can have such an impact on blood pressure. Mine is always high at the doctor's office but I took it a few days later at a health fair and it was amazing so it's hard for me to get an accurate reading. Voted up!

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi HealthyLife, Doctor Officitis can cause hi blood pressure, the moment you leave the office you blood pressure drops! It's real common. Thanks for the Vote Up!

    • paul pruel profile image

      Paul Odien Pruel 4 years ago from Philippines and Saudi Arabia

      So informative. Packed of facts. A must read.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Paul, I appreciate your comments.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very informative. I wonder why athletes have lower resting heart rates than an average person.

      Voted up, awesome and shared.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Rajan, athletes heart muscles are so strong it takes less beats a minute to circulate blood. Thanks for your comments and nice to see you.

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello HouseBuyersUS, thanks for reading my hub and for your comments.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 4 years ago from Texas

      Hey there eHealer. Another well researched and well written article you have turned out here. I learned quite a bit while reading it. Next time I go jogging, I'm going to pay attention and see how long it takes for my heart to return to it's normal rate. Voted up, useful, and interesting. Also shared on Twitter, Facebook, and with followers. Job well done my friend :)

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks ProspectBoy, I am so glad you found it helpful. Thank you for all the shares! That is really wonderful, and I appreciate your comments and helpful feedback. You Rock!

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great hub. Very informative and well organized. Voted up and interesting.

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Nanderson! Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your comments very much. Thanks

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      My BP is usually 110/70. Now I am adding another year in 40s life, it's been upgraded to 120/80 which you attested that is normal.

      Thank you for this first-rate info. :)

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Travel man, normals are just a way to adjust the majority. Normal is not "normal' for everyone. What experts say is that any pressure above 120/80 is too much pressure on the heart muscle and may damage it overtime. You BP is fine and it does go up as we age. The blood vessels get stiffer and it's just part of aging. Your doing great with a bp like that. So many people are on meds for it, your healthy. Thanks for your comments!

    • pharmacist2013 profile image

      pharmacist2013 4 years ago

      Hello eHealer, well organized and made simple, thumbs up, voted useful!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Pharmacist, I really appreciate your opinion and comments. See you soon!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ....I have high blood pressure and it seems to be under control BUT

      it's always good to gather new facts and information and because of my age now at 104 I will most likely have it the rest of my life - lake erie time ontario canada 11:28pm Thank you sincerely for your hard work here at the Hub and for helping so many people out with your expertise

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you epigramman, it is my pleasure to help you. I am so glad you are taking care of yourself and keep up the good work for a long and happy life. Cheers!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I get very frustrated with my doctor wanting to put me on BP meds, because she won't acknowledge "white coat syndrome." This usually happens when they take my BP AFTER telling me I need a blood test--which always upsets me, as I am a wuss and can't stand needles, and a blood draw makes me feel woozy. Take the danged BP FIRST, THEN, tell me afterwards if you want a blood draw! Grrr...

      This was very interesting and informative, and so voted!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello DzyMsLizzy, I understand your frustration with white coat syndrome. Take your BP yourself and document it at home.Then present your findings to your doctor, it's the only way to prove that you are experiencing white coat syndrome. Thank you for your comments, and good luck to you!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 4 years ago

      Hi eHealer,

      It is nice to meet you. I saw you on Deborah Brooks interview hub on me.

      Thank you for this informative and valuable information.

      It is has been a few months since I took my blood pressure at the local pharmacy. My diastolic reading was 86. On the machine it says a diastolic reading of 90 and above is considered high and systolic reading of 140 and above is high. My reading was 126 /86 and my pulse was 67. Much better than it use to be which was 150/100. I refused to go on medication and changed my diet instead.

      Voted up and awesome

      Take care :)

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Congrats Sue, you know the old saying we are what we eat, well, it's just kinda true! Chronic conditions directly reflect what we eat 75% of the time. That is great that you took control of your health and lowered your BP!

    • profile image

      joyfe 3 years ago

      MY HEART RATE IS 60. IS IT OK?

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