A normal heart rate for seniors is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, the resting heart rate for seniors can differ from their heart rate with regular exercise. To determine the target elderly heart rate, you will want to take the maximum heart rate for seniors (220 and subtract your age) and take 50-85% of that. According to the American Heart Association, the estimated target heart rate numbers for adults ages 45-70 are:
- 45 years: 88 to 149 beats per minute
- 50 years: 85 to 145 beats per minute
- 55 years: 83 to 140 beats per minute
- 60 years: 80 to 136 beats per minute
- 65 years: 78 to 132 beats per minute
- 70 years: 75 to 128 beats per minute
If a senior’s heart rate is too low or too high, it can be dangerous and we will go over why in the next two sections.
Causes of Low Heart Rate in Elderly
A low heart rate, or bradycardia, can cause severe health problems. This includes fainting, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, and memory problems. You should have a thorough medical evaluation to determine the cause of your low heart rate but here is a brief look at what causes low heart rate in elderly.
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Atrioventricular (AV) node damage
- Congestive cardiomyopathy
- Chemical imbalances (such as calcium, electrolytes, and potassium)
- Heart attack
- Heart surgery complications
- Inflammatory diseases
- Medication side effects
- Sick sinus syndrome
You can treat bradycardia by exercising, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, limiting smoking and drinking, managing stress, and using other treatments to care for heart disease. Consult your doctor about the best steps to take.
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Causes of Fast Heart Rate in Elderly
It’s normal to have a faster heart rate when performing physically demanding activities but if your heart rate is higher than 100 beats per minute while at rest, you may have tachycardia. If left untreated, this can lead to dangerous complications, including heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac arrest, and death. The exact cause of tachycardia cannot always be determined but here are a few factors:
- Drinking too many caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
- Electrolyte imbalance
- High or low blood pressure
- Medication side effects
- Sudden stress, such as fright
- Stimulant drug use
You can combat tachycardia through medications for underlying diseases, surgery, or through the implantation of a cardioverter or a pacemaker. As always, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
The Heart of the Matter
According to researchers from Harvard Medical School, one in four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. Consider purchasing a wearable heart monitor to measure your heart rate and keep it in check. If you find that your heart rate is abnormal, speak to your doctor immediately for further treatment methods.