Knowing one’s heart rate and blood oxygen levels is important, especially as we get older. To help determine a healthy heart rate and blood oxygen level, read on:

Calculating Heart Rate

Taking a pulse doesn’t need a stethoscope, although many doctors prefer to use them. For the average person, lightly pressing two fingers to the main vein at the wrist or the jugular is enough to find a pulse. From there, you can count how many beats occur within fifteen seconds. Multiply that number by four to get a current bpm.


Remember that your heart rate will fluctuate, and its speed depends on several factors. Age, fitness level, emotion, body size, air temperature, and even some medications can alter someone’s heart rate. Medical conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease may change heart rate as well.


Using a Stethoscope

To read someone’s heart rate using a stethoscope, place the earpieces in your ears and the stethoscope bell over the center of the patient’s chest. You can calculate heart rate using the same method as before-- counting the number of beats in fifteen seconds, then multiplying by four. Stethoscopes are also great tools for detecting irregularities. If someone’s heartbeat sounds different than usual, it’s time to call a doctor.

Using a Pulse Oximeter

Pulse Oximeters are far less common than stethoscopes, and they are most often used in emergencies. However, many people may have a pulse oximeter at home to monitor their blood oxygen levels. People with a history of smoking, heart attack, or COPD may have a pulse oximeter on hand to check both their pulse and blood oxygen levels as well.

When using a pulse oximeter to read heart rate, place the device on your index finger and turn it on. The device will tell you your heart rate in beats per minute. For blood oxygen level, the number is displayed as a percentage on the device’s screen.

What’s Considered Healthy?

A healthy heart rate depends on the individual, but a good rule of thumb is to stay above 60 beats per minute. For those who do not exercise regularly, it is also recommended to keep the heart rate under 100 beats per minute.


Blood oxygen levels tend to fluctuate as well, but only by a few percentage points. Anywhere from 95 to 100 on the pulse oximeter is considered healthy. Lower blood oxygen levels can be very dangerous when left untreated.


If you or a loved one is having difficulty measuring your pulse or blood oxygen levels, contact your primary care physician for personal assistance. To browse other diagnostic items, visit Medical Supply Depot.

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