# What is a radial pulse?

When the heart beats, the arteries pulsate at the same time. Some of these arteries, such as the radial and carotid arteries, can be easily felt, while others are too deep in the body to access. This pulse measurement is an easy way to count your heartbeat, and this can be useful for determining things like your active or resting heart rate.

As mentioned, two of the most common places to measure the heartbeat are the carotid arteries, which are on the sides of the neck, and the radial arteries. The pulsation of the radial arteries can be felt inside the wrist. A good way to find this is to use the index and middle fingers of the opposite hand. Follow the thumb line down to the wrist. People will notice bones in the wrist just below the thumb. Once these bones are passed, a small area of ​​soft tissue is reached and the radial pulse should be felt. This is about an inch to a half inch (2.54 cm to 1.27 cm) below where the hand meets the wrist on the thumb side, not directly in the center of the wrist.

When people take a radial pulse, they make a common mistake by grasping the wrist with their fingers and thumb. This can complicate the attempt to count the pulse, because the thumb also beats. Especially when taking another person's pulse, it's important to use the first two fingers of your hand. Pressing too hard can be another mistake, as this could affect the pulsation. When you are having difficulty finding a radial pulse, consider trying to find the pulsation of any of the carotid arteries.

In order to take an accurate radial pulse, a person will need access to a watch or clock that has a second hand. People aim to count the number of heartbeats in a single minute, but this can usually be estimated at least by counting heartbeats for 10 to 15 seconds. The counted beats are multiplied by six or four, respectively, to determine the appropriate minute heart rate count. Alternatively, some people take a radial pulse for six seconds and multiply the beats by 10. The latter can be a bit less accurate, and some do count the pulse for a full sixty seconds to get the best beats per minute (BPM) count.

There are several reasons why people may want to take a radial pulse. They may determine their resting heart rate as directed by their doctor, or alternatively, they may be exercising and trying to determine if they have reached their optimal heart rate for aerobic exercise. Alternatively, people may need the pulse of other people who are unconscious, and this is a common procedure when taking vital signs in hospitals to monitor heart rate.

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