The connection between heart rate and age lies in the fact that heart rate decreases with age. This is evident when considering what normal pulse rates or heartbeats per minute are when a person is at rest. For example, a pulse rate of 60-100 is normal for an adult, but the normal pulse rate for a newborn is 120-160. Healthcare providers, particularly those who must attend to patients of all ages, are very familiar with the connection between heart rate and age. Charts showing normal pulse rates based on age typically are divided into these age groups: adults, adolescents age 11-14, school-age children, preschoolers, toddlers, infants 6-12 months old, infants 0-5 months old and newborns.
One should remember that although there is an undeniable connection between heart rate and age, other factors can affect pulse rate regardless of age. These factors can easily cause a person of one age group to experience a pulse rate that is typical of another age group. For example, adults who are athletic tend to have a slower-than-normal heart rate for their age group. Their heart is in good shape and has been made strong by a healthy amount of exercise on a regular basis. It therefore does not have to work as hard as someone else of the same age group who does not exercise.
Other factors that affect the connection between heart rate and age include the degree of any exercise just completed, blood loss, medications, stress and body temperature. If an adult who has a normal heart rate at rest exercises, his or her pulse rate will rapidly increase. This is why people are advised to consult with their doctor before beginning a program of exercise. The loss of enough blood to bring on shock also affects heart rate regardless of age, because the heart pumps faster in an attempt to deliver much-needed oxygenated blood to the vital organs.
Bradycardia, the medical term for a slow pulse, and tachycardia, the medical term for a rapid pulse, are determined by considering the connection between heart rate and age. For example, an adult who is not athletic, has not just completed exercise and is not in shock, under stress or on medications should have a pulse rate of 60-100. If such an adult patient has a pulse that remains below 60, bradycardia is said to be present. A pulse rate in an adult that stays above 100 indicates tachycardia. The quality of a person's heart rate also is important to a healthcare provider because of the health conditions that it can reveal.