pharmacists planning service, inc. 

60 Seconds - Once a Month

If your Pulse is Irregular,
You May be at Risk for a Stroke.
How Can You Tell?

Check your pulse. It's important to realize that you are not counting your pulse, you are checking to make sure that your heartbeat (pulse) is regular. When looking for signs of stroke, you are checking the rhythm of your heartbeat. A normal heartbeat is steady. A very irregular is a danger sign.... By just tapping your foot or counting aloud, determine if your pulse is regular, irregular, or very irregular. A very irregular pulse is a trouble alert. See the chart below for the four steps on checking your pulse.

The self-screening technique must be performed properly in order to obtain the correct results and should not be considered as a substitute for consulting with a physician. If you are having difficulty locating your pulse of performing the screening technique, you may want to discuss your concerns with you physician.

Place your left hand on a flat surface,
Palm side up.

Run two fingers of your right hand
Along the outer edge of you left wrist
Just below where your hand and wrist meet.

Press down with your fingers until you feel your pulse.
DON'T press too hard or you won't be able to feel the pulse.
Feel free to move your fingers,
Until the pulse is easiest to feel.

Continue to feel your pulse for one minute.
As you feel your pulse beat, try to keep time.
Imagine the rhythmic ticking of a clock.
This will help you notice if the beat is steady or not.

What is meant by regular, irregular and very irregular? A very irregular pulse or heartbeat is best understood by thinking about what the words "regular," "irregular," and "very irregular" mean. Look at the illustrations below. Imagine that the dashed lines represent individual pulses (heartbeats).

A normal regular heartbeat should look and feel like this:
(Note that the dashes are the same size and evenly spaced.)

An irregular heartbeat may look and feel like this:
(Where occasionally a beat is dropped or comes at a different interval.)
Note: An occasional irregular heartbeat is rarely something to worry about.

A very irregular heartbeat would look and feel like this:
(Where there is no pattern to the beats, and they are all different sizes.)

What do I do if I think my pulse is very rregular? Nobody expects you to make an exact diagnosis, but if you get a sense that something is amiss, you should make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. to find out more anout stroke or how to check your pulse, contact the NSA at 1-800-STROKES.

Return to Home Page

Return to Main Stroke Menu