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How to Take Your Pulse

Taking your pulse is a way to measure your heart rate. When you take your pulse, you are feeling the force of blood as it’s pumped from your heart into your body. You may be asked to take your pulse regularly. Or you may just need to take it when you exercise or when you feel something is wrong.

Closeup of pads of first two fingers on inner wrist of opposite hand, just below thumb.
Press until you feel a light beating. This is your pulse.

Step 1. Find your pulse

  • With your first 2 fingers, press lightly on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of the thumb. You should not be pressing on a bone.

  • The beats you feel are your pulse. If you can’t find your pulse, try moving your fingers slightly to a new spot.

Step 2. Take your pulse

  • Count the beats you feel in your wrist as you watch the second hand on a clock. You may be told to count the beats for 6 seconds, then multiply that number by 10. Or you may be told to count for a full minute. Both methods should give you the same result.

  • The number you get is your pulse measurement. It is measured in beats per minute (bpm). A normal pulse is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The beats should be regular (evenly spaced).

Step 3. Write down the results

  • Write down your pulse each time you take it. You may be asked to bring your results with you each time you visit the doctor.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Gandelman, Glenn, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Date Last Reviewed: 4/27/2016
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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