Healthy living

Heartbeat and pulse

At rest, your heart beats at a rate of about 60 to 100 times a minute (a child's heart rate is higher). In an average lifetime, a heart will beat around 3 billion times.

When you are physically active, excited or ill, your heart rate can rise significantly. This is a natural response.

There are two parts to each heartbeat:

  • the systole is when the heart contracts and pumps blood
  • the diastole is when the heart relaxes, after contraction, so the chambers can refill with blood.

Every heartbeat results in blood moving forward through your arteries. You can feel this movement as a 'pulse' by placing two fingers over the artery of your wrist. Your pulse rate tells you how fast your heart is beating.

Where to get help

  • Always dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance in a medical emergency
  • See your doctor
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Phone the Heart Foundation’s Health Information Service on 1300 362 787

This information provided by

Heart Foundation logo


Cardiovascular Health Network

Heart Foundation

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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