Normal Heart Rate for Women at Rest and During Exercise
What is a normal heart rate? First, it depends when the heart rate is taken. If the heart rate is measured at rest while awake, a typical heart rate for healthy person is between 60-80 bpm. A heart rate above 100 bpm is defined as tachycardia. And a heart rate below 60 bpm is called bradycardia.
Women and men are essentially alike in terms of the basic heart rate. However, on average, women tend to have a faster baseline heart rate than men. This difference in resting heart rate can be seen as early as the fifth year of life.
A women’s resting heart rate may give some indication of risk for future cardiac problems. In 2009, researchers looked at over 100,000 postmenopausal women who had no history of heart problems. At the beginning of the study, the women’s resting heart rates were recorded. After 8 years, the scientists discovered that women with higher pulse rates -- at or above 76 beats per minute – had a greater chance of a heart attack than the women with the lowest resting pulse rates, 62 beats per minute or less. Even after taking into account factors that might affect resting heart rate, including physical activity, diabetes, nervousness, depression, tobacco use, alcohol use, and body mass index, women with higher baseline pulse rates were still at greater risk.
During exercise, it is normal for the heart rate to increase. The peak heart rate that you should be able to obtain varies by age. For many years, the formula used for women was the one that was derived for men. In a large study of over 5,000 healthy women, cardiologist Martha Gulati, MD, of Northwestern University has found that women—when it comes to physiology—are not the same as men. "Women are not small men," Gulati states. "There is a gender difference in exercise capacity a woman can achieve. Different physiologic responses can occur. " The old formula for peak heart rated -- 220 minus age -- is based on data obtained from men. The new formula for women is 206 minus 88 percent of age. At age 50, the old formula would give a peak rate of 170 beats per minute women (and men). The new formula for women would result in an estimated maximum heart rate of 162 beats for women.
This new formula published in 2010 in the heart journal Circulation is important for women. First, many women and trainers use the calculated peak heart rate for a certain age and multiply it by 65 to 85 percent to determine the rate heart that they want to target during exercise. In addition, with the new formula, physicians will more accurately determine if women are having a normal or abnormal response to exercise. "If it's abnormal, that's a marker for a higher risk of death," Gulati said.
Dr. Lisa Matzer is a female cardiologist and internist for Burbank, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Glendale, Studio City, Los Angeles, and the Southern California. Specialities include treatment, diagnosis, management and prevention of men and women's heart disease and men's and women's preventive health.
Copyright 2010 Lisa Matzer, M.D., A Prof Corp, a female cardiologist and internist serving Burbank and Los Angeles, All rights reserved.