The term "pulse" generally refers to the vibrations in radial artery of the wrist. It is perceptible to the touch and can be checked by human fingers or electronic instruments.
The frequency of the pulse varies with age. It should be around 80 beats per minute in a healthy male adult and 5 to 10 beats more in females. In children it is much faster at the time of birth (between 130 and 140 beats per minute), which reduces as they grow up. In some individuals it is found to be around 40 beats per minute without the symptoms of a disease but it indicates that there is something wrong somewhere and calls for detailed investigations. The frequency increases with the activity like physical exertion and/or mental, emotional excitement, while it reduces during sleep et cetera.
Significance of Pulse
In modern science, the pulse is generally understood only as indicator of functioning of the heart whereas practitioners of ancient healing systems describe it as mirror of the whole body. Some herbal practitioners use pulse as the main tool for diagnoses and can pinpoint various diseases without any laboratory tests. Mostly such diagnosis is unbelievably accurate. Reading the pulse is a specialization by itself and cannot be learnt only through book reading. This wonderful art requires many years of practical experience to learn and master.
Some abnormalities of the pulse
- Too rapid (Tachycardia)
- Too slow (Bradycardia). Watch out for the action of your heart.
- Deep or very deep, not easily found. At times it cannot be found at all, particularly in obese persons.
- Weak, almost imperceptible.
- Intermittent. A beat or two missing after some beats. It is a serious irregularity.
- Irregular (non rhythmic). Some beats strong and some weak.
- Too strong, felt by the patient everywhere in the body. It does not necessarily indicate lot of body strength.
- Thin (wiry) pulse.
- Too soft, compressible.
Here is how to check the pulse correctly. In case you find one or more of these abnormalities, you should consider consulting your doctor as soon as possible. It may not necessarily indicate a trouble with the heart, it could be something else.