Difference Between Heart Rate and Pulse

Heart rate is the number of times per minute that the heart contracts - the number of heart beats per minute (bpm).

Heart rate is most accurately measured from the thorax with the transmitter of heart rate monitor or the electrodes of the electrocardiograph (EKG).

Pulse is the mechanical pulse of blood flow through the capillaries caused by the contractions of the heart per minute.

Pulse can be measured from an earlobe with a pulse meter (also called photoreflectance or infrared sensor monitor) containing a photocell sensor. Pulse meters are not very reliable when used out of doors because of the changes in ambient light. In addition, they are rather sensitive to body movements and are not accurate during intensive exercise. This is because of the movement of the device during exercise and because the blood flows smoothly without distinctive intervals in the thin blood vessels of the earlobe.

Pulse can also be measured by palpating during rest. Pulse can be found at the base of thumb at the wrist, or at the neck just to the side of the windpipe. It can be measured with index and middle fingers by counting the beats in 15 seconds and by multiplying the count by 4 to get a rough estimate of the heart rate per minute.

Palpating is not an accurate method to receive exercise heart rate. If one wants to check his/her exercise heart rate manually, the measurement should be done immediately after stopping because the heart rate will start to slow down as the body recovers.

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