Is a heart rate in the 50s normal for a 66-year-old woman?

Howard E. Lewine, MD
Hospitalist
Yes, a heart rate of 50 and above is quite normal. Many young people who exercise regularly have a resting heart rate that is often in the fifties.

However, before you accept that everything is fine, there are some basic questions that need to be asked.
  • Do you have any symptoms when your heart rate is slower than usual?
    Call your doctor if you have chest pain, shortness of breath or lightheadedness with a slow heartbeat.
    • Does your heartbeat feel regular, like a clock ticking?
      If the answer is yes, that is very reassuring. If it feels like it is skipping around, you may have a mild arrhythmia. Usually this won't need any special treatment. But you should get an electrocardiogram to identify the type of arrhythmia.
    • Are you taking a beta blocker or calcium channel blocker?
      These drugs slow the heart rate and a rate of 50 to 59 is fine. Sometimes doctors want the heart rate to stay in that range.
    • Do you have more fatigue than usual?
      A slow heart rate can be a sign of an under active thyroid (called hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism in females is quite common. A simple blood test can determine if you have it.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.