For adults, a normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest, reports Mayo Clinic. Determine heart rate by placing two fingers on the pulse at the wrist, and then count the number of pulse beats per minute.
To locate the appropriate position for checking the pulse, position two fingers between the tendon and the bone over the radial artery located on the thumb side of the wrist, advises Mayo Clinic. Alternatively, place the third and index fingers on the neck on the side of the windpipe to check the pulse. For a faster reading, count the number of beats for 15 seconds only, then multiply the result by four.
The lower the heart rate, the higher the level of cardiovascular fitness and the more efficient the heart functions, reports Mayo Clinic. A number of different factors affect heart rate, including fitness and activity levels, emotions, body size, air temperature and medications. Additionally, body position, including lying down or standing up, affects heart rate.
Doctors should evaluate heart rates that are usually higher or lower, since this often indicates an underlying medical condition, advises Mayo Clinic. Heart rates below 60 beats per minute indicate bradycardia, while consistent readings of 100 beats per minute or greater are indicative of tachycardia.