Why and how to feel your pulse

Why feel your Pulse?

A normal pulse is regular, like a clock (or Roger Taylor's regular drum beat!).

If the pulse is erratic or faster than normal it may be the only sign that you have a heart condition called atrial fibrillation

Although you might thinking  "if it aint broke dont fix it" and that you feel just fine it is important that you realise that we see many many patients who suffer a stroke as a result of not realising their pulse was irregular, and all too often this is recognised and treated too late to prevent the stroke.

This is the basis of the 'call to action'.

How long does it take?

It takes just 30 seconds!


Follow our instructions shown by Anthea Turner below:

How often should you take your pulse?

It is not known how often this check should be undertaken, but in high risk people (for example those that have had AF and are on treatment to prevent recurrence), especially if anticoagulant drugs have been discontinued, a daily check is advised.

One pragmatic answer is that if you are over 65 and have any risk factors such as any of:

  1. Diabetes
  2. High Blood Pressure
  3. Palpitation
  4. TIA or past Stroke

You should check your pulse as part of your morning routine each day - say when you wake up or brush your teeth or take your medication, as a matter of course.

What should you do if it is abnormal?

If your pulse is not steady and regular - but you feel fine- there is no need to panic! Contact your GP  to have it looked at within a few weeks. You do not need to attend A&E or call the out of hours srevice unless you feel ill. 

Related Stories and links

Roger Moore demonstrates for Arrhthmia Alliance
How Atrial Fibrillation causes a stroke
BHF Know your Pulse
Arrhythmia Alliance Know your Pulse campaign

Written by

Edward Leatham is a Consultant Cardiologist in Surrey and a Trustee of Haste and Haste Academy.


  1. Nick Carter says:

    Good blog

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