The human heart has a great sense of rhythm. Its two internal nodes generate electrical signals to contract the heart in sequence. The contractions are heartbeats that keep blood flowing throughout the body. They can be regular or irregular, but normal heart rhythm has a regular, steady pace.
Our hearts beat faithfully day and night, without any conscious effort on our part. That has always amazed me.
When the heart beat is steady, its rhythm is called normal sinus rhythm (NSR). “Normal” means that the beat is even. “Sinus” means that the beat effectively empties (drains) blood from the heart. This draining moves blood to the lungs to take in oxygen. It also transports blood with oxygen and nutrients to the body to keep it functioning.
Normal heart rhythm can vary, depending on a person’s age, the time of day, and other factors:
- Normal rhythm for babies can seem fast, compared to normal rhythm for adults.
- Normal rhythm during sleep time can seem slower than during awake time.
- Normal rhythm during exercise can seem fast compared to normal rhythm during rest.
Medical science uses manual and electronic checks to detect whether heart rhythm is normal:
- Manual pulse monitoring places an index and middle finger on the radial artery in the wrist or the carotid artery in the neck. It is easy to sense the rhythm this way.
- Electronic pulse monitoring uses a device with electrodes on the chest to produce an electrocardiogram (also called an ECG)—a visual tracing of the heartbeat signals it senses through the electrodes.
Please share something you know about normal heart rhythm.