Ways to monitor your heart health throughout the year


In this article:

  • The new year is a great time to focus on heart health and understand what puts your heart at risk for disease.

  • Your heart rate is a good indication of how well your heart is functioning. It’s important to know how to measure your heart rate and what the numbers tell you.

  • We’ve gathered some heart resources, so you can care for your heart and start the year off right.

The new year can be a great time to re-focus on your health goals. Especially when it comes to your heart. In the body, the heart does so much. It not only gives oxygen and nutrients to other organs and systems but it also removes waste products.

There’s a lot you can do to protect your heart – such as knowing what puts your heart at risk for disease, making simple lifestyle updates and monitoring how your heart is doing. To help you start the year off right, we’ve gathered resources to answer your questions about heart health.

Heart rate 101: How to monitor it and what’s ideal

Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats in a minute. And it’s a little like the story of Goldilocks: the ideal number is not too fast and not too slow. It’s just right. Your heart rate gives a good prediction of how well your heart is functioning. It’s easy to check your heart rate to make sure your heart is working as it should. Here are some key numbers to remember:

  • The average resting heart rate (how fast your heart beats when you are at rest) is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Some medications and health conditions can affect this range.
  • Your maximum heart rate (the most times your heart can beat in a minute) is usually 220 minus your age.
  • Your target heart rate range (how much your heart should beat during exercise) is 50 to 80% of your maximum heart rate.

Learn more about heart rate numbers and measuring your pulse.

Which heart rate monitor is right for me?

Portable heart rate monitors and fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes. But do you need one? And if so, how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Chances are, you probably don’t need a heart rate monitor unless you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, and your doctor has asked you to track your heart rate and rhythm. Aside from tracking a heart condition, wearable monitors can help someone trying to reach a target heart rate while exercising. We break down the types of heart rate monitors for exercise and health conditions – from wrist monitors to portable electrocardiograms (EKG).

Learn more and find the best option for your needs and budget.

Stress and the heart: What you need to know

Stress can lead to chronic high blood pressure, one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. Studies indicate that people who show signs of stress on brain scans were more likely to have a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. Providence provides advice on ways to relieve stress and improve your heart health. 

Learn more about how to recognize the effects of stress on your physical health and ways to improve your wellbeing.

COVID-19 and heart conditions

It’s important to note that having a heart condition doesn’t make you more likely to get COVID-19. But having a pre-existing heart condition like high blood pressure, AFib, heart failure or pulmonary disease creates higher risk of more severe infection if you do get COVID-19. That’s because these heart conditions lower the natural reserves your body needs to fight the infection.

There are a few things you can do to take care of your heart and help prevent a heart emergency during this pandemic.

  • Keep taking your heart disease medicines (including your high blood pressure and high cholesterol drugs) based on your doctor’s orders.
  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of those medicines.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have new concerns about your health, especially if you feel sick.

Most important of all, the American Heart Association says, “Don’t die of doubt.” If you experience the first sign of a heart attack or stroke, call 911. Hospitals are still the safest place you can go to receive lifesaving treatment. Don’t delay getting emergency care if you need it.


Find a doctor

If you need advice on how to protect your heart and what’s best for you, talk to your doctor. You can find a Providence cardiologist using our provider directory.

Related resources

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence.

If you need care, don't delay. Learn more about your options.

Stress and the heart: What you need to know

Q+A with Dr. Simon: Reducing your risk of heart disease

Heart health glossary: Here are the terms you should know

Can certain foods lower your cholesterol?

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Heart & Vascular Team is committed to bringing you many years of expertise and experience to help you understand how to prevent, treat and recover from cardiovascular diseases and conditions. From tips to eating better to exercise and everything in between, our clinical experts know how to help you help your heart.

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