Q:

What causes your pulse?

A:

Quick Answer

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a pulse is generated by the opening and closing of the aortic valve in the heart. It is the rhythmic dilation of an artery.

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Full Answer

Encyclopedia Britannica states that a pulse can be felt by applying firm fingertip pressure to the skin at sites where the arteries travel near the surface. A pulse is easier to detect when the surrounding muscles are relaxed. Common pulse points are the carotid artery of the neck, the brachial artery inside the elbow and the radial artery in the wrist.

The human pulse rate varies. The normal pulse rate of an adult at rest may range from 50 to 85 beats per minute. The average pulse rate is approximately 70 to 72 for men and 78 to 82 for women. The pulse rate of infants ranges from 110 to 140. The pulse rate decreases with age and may drop to 50 to 70 for the elderly, says Encyclopedia Britannica.

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