Heart Cross Section (Animation) Heart rate is the speed of the heartbeat measured by the number of contractions (beats) of the heart per minute (bpm). The heart rate can vary according to the body’s physical needs, including the need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. It is usually equal or close to the pulse measured at any peripheral point. Activities that can provoke change include physical exercise, sleep, anxiety, stress, illness, and ingestion of drugs.
The American Heart Association states the normal resting adult human heart rate is 60–100 bpm.Tachycardia is a fast heart rate, defined as above 100 bpm at rest.Bradycardia is a slow heart rate, defined as below 60 bpm at rest. During sleep a slow heartbeat with rates around 40–50 bpm is common and is considered normal. When the heart is not beating in a regular pattern, this is referred to as an arrhythmia. Abnormalities of heart rate sometimes indicate disease.