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Description:During his physical examination, this seated male patient was having his pulse rate determined by a female clinician, who held his right wrist at the region of the radial artery.

As blood is pumped by the heart, it passes through the circulatory system composed of tubes known as arteries, veins, and capillaries, including the radial artery in the wrist. This causes the arteries, which carry blood away from the heart, to pulsate, a phenomenon that can be felt through the overlying tissues, as they’re compressed by the doctor’s fingers.
The CDC offers these direction for taking your own heart rate during exercise:

Generally, to determine whether you are exercising within the heart rate target zone, you must stop exercising briefly to take your pulse. You can take the pulse at the neck, the wrist, or the chest. We recommend the wrist. You can feel the radial pulse on the artery of the wrist in line with the thumb. Place the tips of the index and middle fingers over the artery and press lightly. Do not use the thumb. Take a full 60-second count of the heartbeats, or take for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. Start the count on a beat, which is counted as "zero." If this number falls between 85 and 119 bpm in the case of the 50-year-old person, he or she is active within the target range for moderate-intensity activity.

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Content Providers(s):CDC/ Amanda Mills
Creation Date:2011
Photo Credit:Amanda Mills
Links:CDC - Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.