Article on: 'What Heart Rate is normal' and life insurance

Heart Function | What Heart Rate is Normal
Your Heart is the Bodies Engine Room

What is Healthy Resting Heart Rate?

A normal heart beats around 60/70 times per minute, or about 100,000 times per day. Or 40 million times a year. Or in total, a healthy resting heart rate clocking up 3 billion heartbeats over an average lifetime!

So we all better take care of that precious organ 'Our Heart Ticker' to help keep our Heart Rate healthy.

The heart is your bodies main engine room. It is also responsible for pumping life-sustaining blood via a 60,000-mile-long network of vessels. It keeps your body freshly supplied with oxygen & nutrients, while also clearing away harmful waste matter.

In this article we will examine heart rates, triggers, symptoms, diagnosis, type & treatments. Then finally how these may all affect terms for life insurance, critical illness, income protection & private health insurance.

Heart Rate resting?

However, if we look at the heart rate chart below, we will see the general difference between ages bands. Then also physiologically between men & women generally what your heart rate resting should be ie; what is healthy heart rate. However, what heart rate is normal also depends on various other factors & lifestyle - which we will examine.

In this article we will also look at the impact "What Heart Rate is Normal" or abnormal may have on life insurance, income protection, health insurance or critical illness.

What's healthy resting heart rate ?
What's Healthy Resting Heart Rate ? | Heart Rate Readings

Generally, what's healthy resting heart rate, the lower your heart rate is at rest also implies more efficient heart functions and correspondingly better cardiovascular fitness. 

Heart Rate how to check?

Unsure what to do? There are a few simple ways to study heart rate how to check readings.

  • Place your index finger and 3rd fingers onto your neck, to the side of your windpipe.
  • Check your pulse at your wrist
  • Place 2 fingers between the tendon & bone over your radial artery (located on the thumb side of your wrist).
  • When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds eg; 17 beats per 15 secs
  • So Multiply (17 beats) by 4 = 68 beats per minute.

There are many factors that could influence what heart rate is normal including....

  • Age
  • Fitness and activity levels
  • Smoking
  • Cardiovascular risk, raised cholesterol or diabetic
  • Air temperature - Hot or Cold
  • Body position ( lying down or standing up)
  • Emotional state
  • BMI Body size
  • Medications
What is the normal heart rate  ?
* source thesaurus plus

Whats an ECG?

Whats an ECG ? It is short for electrocardiogram. It's a simple test that can be used to check your heart's rhythm & its electrical activities against what's healthy resting heart rate.

Various sensors attached to your skin to help detect the electrical signals all produced by your heart each time it beats. These are all registered on a machine to check if your Heart Rates healthy or not.

An ECG may be often requested by a heart cardiologist, or any medical professional who thinks you might have a problems.

What Heart Rate is Normal & Heart Arrhythmia?

In the UK, Heart Arrhythmia or heart rhythm issues are experienced by over 2 million people. Many people with any abnormal heart rhythm can often lead a normal life (if properly diagnosed).

Arrhythmia is...?

An arrhythmia is an abnormality of your normal heart's rhythm against than what is normal resting heart rate. The heart's rhythm is controlled by electrical signals. It could beat too slowly, or too quickly, or just irregularly than what heart rate is normal..  

There are usally 5 main types of Heart Arrhythmia is shown in an ECG. With all these types, sometimes it is hard to know beforehand of a causal issue. Symptoms maybe dizziness, a shortness of breath and tiredness, or none at all.

1] Atrial Fibrillation in ECG

Atrial fibrillation in ECG shows your heart is causing an irregular condition & often abnormally faster heart rate. This sometimes is higher than 100 beats a minute.

The exact causes of an ecg with atrial fibrillation can be hard to identify. However, it's more common with age and can affect certain groups of people more than others. Atrial fibrillation is more common in people with other health issues or heart related conditions. Atrial fibrillation is a common cause of stroke.

What is the cause of Atrial Fibrillation?

What is the cause of Atrial Fibrillation - well certain situations may well trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation, including:-

  • drinking excessive amounts of alcohol eg; binge drinking
  • being overweight or obese
  • taking illegal drugs
  • smoking
  • drinking too much of caffeine ie; too much tea, coffee or energy drinks
High KG BMI cause of Atrial Fibrillation. What Heart Rate is Normal ?
A Large Problem? One leading Cause of Atrial Fibrillation

2] Ventricular Tachycardia in ECG

Ventricular tachycardia in ECG (or Super Ventricular SVT) is where your heart suddenly beats much faster than what heart rate is normal. It's often not usually serious, some episodes of SVT only last a few minutes, but some people may need treatment.

Causes Tachycardia?

These all mainly occur when the electrical system that controls your heart rhythm is not working properly. Exact triggers that causes Tachycardia SVT could be varied. So to help avoid this...

  • Cut down on high amounts of caffeine
  • Reduce amounts of alcohol you drink
  • Quit smoking
  • Get enough rest in between exercise or work

You can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your chances of having episodes. But so far causes for these various heart issues seem similar.

3] Bradycardia in ECG

Bradycardia in ECG is where your heart beats too slow versus what is normal resting heart rate. Elderly people are often more prone to bradycardia. However, Bradycardia can depend on your age & overall physical condition eg; some top athletes may have this.

4] Heart Block in ECG

Heart Block in ECG is where your heart beats more slowly than what is the normal heart rate or with an abnormal rhythm. Some people are born with congenital heart block or more commonly acquired heart block develops later into life.

There are 3 main types

  • 1st-degree heart block is the least serious, which may not cause any symptoms
  • 2nd-degree heart block sometimes causes troublesome symptoms that need treatment
  • 3rd-degree heart block is the most serious. It can sometimes be a medical emergency

5] Ventricular Fibrillation on ECG

Ventricular Fibrillation in ECG is serious but rare rhythm of heartbeats that are rapid and dis-organised against what is normal resting heart rate. This condition rapidly leads to loss of consciousness and sudden death if not treated immediately

What Heart Rate is Normal for life Expectancy ? Uk Life Insurance Quotes > 15 secs
Life Expectancy assuming Heart Rate Healthy

What Heart Rate is Normal | Heart Attack Signs Of?

Heart attacks happen when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to that part of your heart muscle. The many sign of Heart Attack can include any of these below* (NHS).

Note: the sign of heart attack are listed in no particular order of importance or severity.

These various heart attack signs of may differ between men & women (see image diagram below & various links to medical health sites).

Heart Attack Men Symptoms?

Heart attack men symptoms can vary between different men as you can see above, even from one heart attack to another in that same person. Some may come on very suddenly, and other heart attack men symptoms give plenty of warning. Still, there are some common men heart attacks signs.

Men are more likely to experience these 4 common heart attack signs eg; sweating, pain in the chest, arms, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, heart burn or indigestion.

Heart Attack Women Symptoms?

So, heart attack symptoms on a woman v men can be either similar or gender different. Like anything we are all unique, so these are general symptoms heart attack for woman.

As with men, heart attack women symptoms commonly are chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of these other common heart attack signs for women eg; particularly shortness of breath, indigestion or gas-like pains, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, sleeping issues, fatigue, and shoulder pain.

All above sign of heart attack - could be a cause to call '999'

These chest pains are often severe and so you will know something is drastically wrong. However, more concerning is some people may only experience a minor pain, similar to indigestion ie; they could be unaware they are having or had a sign of heart attack.

Heart Attack Signs Of | Men v Women | What Heart Rate is Normal ?
Sign of Heart Attack maybe similar or differ between Men & Women

What Heart Rate is Normal & Heart Attack Causes?

Heart attack causes are many & varied. So these are listed in no particular order of importance or severity.

However, Men aged 45+ and women aged 55+ are more likely to have greater heart attack cause, than are younger men and women. This maybe just the impacts of time or wear & tear upon the heart and human body.

A heart attack occurs when one or more of your coronary arteries becomes blocked. Over time, any buildup of fatty deposits, including cholesterol, form a substances called plaques. These can narrow your hearts arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition, called coronary artery disease, causes most heart attacks.

  • Age 
  • Smoking
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Raised cholesterol
  • Raised triglyceride levels 
  • High BMI
  • Diabetic
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Family history of heart attacks
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress levels 
  • Illegal drug use
  • Preeclampsia
  • An autoimmune condition
Heart Attack how to help someone is having one?

Heart Attack how to help?

Watch this short Red Cross First Aid video on heart attack how to help. It may give you confidence if this situation or indeed any other ever happened & what best to do

  1. Has the person persistent, vice-like chest pains, which may have spread to their arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach?
  2. Help them to sit down
  3. Call 999 emergency services
  4. Give them constant reassurance

CPR stands for?

CPR stands for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. It's when someone gives chest compressions to a person in cardiac arrest to keep them alive, until emergency help 999 arrives. eg; Stranger giving CPR helped save Martin Rawlings life.

CPR should only be done if either someone is unconscious and not breathing, or not breathing properly. Note: Covid 19 can change any normal medical advice.

How CPR is Performed?

How CPR is performed is probably best understood by watching someone actually perform it, rather than lengthy written descriptions on how many CPR compressions or how many breaths for CPR. Please watch the below short video.

There are 2 main ways how CPR is performed 1] Hands-only CPR 2] CPR with rescue breaths.

Watch this Video on 'How CPR is performed'...It could save someone life

What Heart Rate is Normal | Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest

Heart attack vs Cardiac Arrest are not the same. A Cardiac Arrest is when your heart stops pumping blood around your body and you stop breathing normally.

Often however cardiac arrests can happen because of a heart attack as you may develop a dangerous heart rhythm, which can then cause a cardiac arrest.

Both heart attack vs cardiac arrest are dangerous emergencies. 

What Heart Rate is Normal | 'Heart Attack Silent'?

It's a stealth Heart Attack Silent killer? A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction (SMI), account for 45% of all heart attacks and may hit more men more than women.

They are described as "silent" because when occuring, their symptoms lack the stronger intensity of a classic heart attack. Many people who have a silent heart attack don’t seek immediate medical help. They are unaware of their current and thus longer term severity what has just happened to them.

Any heart attack silent can further raise your risk of a 2'nd and thus potentially more harmful and fatal heart attack.

The Ticker Club | What Heart Rate is Normal
The Ticker Club for Ex-Heart Patients in Manchester

How Angina is Diagnosed?

What is it and how angina is diagnosed v heart attack? Angina is discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart or artery disease (CHD). Angina symptoms are sometimes similar to those of a heart attack ie; chest pains or indigestion.

 If it’s angina, your symptoms may usually ease or go away after taking a few minutes rest. Alternatively, angina symptoms may ease if you are taking medication such as glyceryl trinitrate medicine (GTN) your GP has prescribed for you. If you’re having a heart attack, your symptoms are less likely to ease or go away after either resting or taking your medicines. 

There are 2 main types of angina. Some people may develop unstable angina after having had stable angina.

* Cardiomyopathy Hypertrophic

Cardiomyopathy Hypertrophic is usually caused by abnormal gene mutations, that may then cause the heart muscle to grow abnormally thick. As a result, the thicker wall may block blood flow out of the heart.

* Cardiomyopathy Dilated

Cardiomyopathy Dilated (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle which makes the muscle walls become stretched and thinner (or dilated). These thinner walls are then weakened. This means your heart can’t squeeze (contract) properly to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Covid 19 & Heart Conditions

COVID increases the risk of heart failure by 72% in some unvaccinated people, research has found, even in initially mild cases. The risks of long-term cardiovascular disease several years after world lockdowns, are only starting to become apparent to medical scientists into the 2020's.

Blood Pressure Reader
High Blood Pressure v Heart Rate Pulse | Good Health Indicators to check

'Life Insurance with a Heart Condition'

Getting life insurance with a heart condition at standard terms can be difficult for underwritten applications where medical questions are asked.

Most Life Insurance coverage policies include terminal illness benefit, which usually means you have less than 12 months to live (terminal illness therefore is not to be confused with a critical illness policy). As such, take this into account for life insurance with a heart condition & any issues over claims.

*Life Insurance Heart Attack

Some UK Life Insurers may charge you a 'health rated' or a higher premium than standard dependent on when this happened. Worse case scenario, they may refuse to offer any underwritten insurance at all, either for the time being or ever.

However, in order to determine whether or not terms maybe offered, please have any heart related condition details, plus latest medication taken to hand to declare on the insurance application.

Unsure what was done? We recommend that you contact your GP surgery asap. If not, Insurers could automatically rate or decline the premium by assuming your heart condition is worse than it is or is not well managed, which is not what you want.

The Insurers application questions typically asked…

  1. What exactly is your heart condition?
  2. Age diagnosed with the heart problem?
  3. What heart tests were done & when eg; ECG?
  4. How many medications do you take?
  5. Do you have other health issues?
  6. Familial history?

The insurance application naturally ask lots more questions eg; smoking, drinking, height & weight. From your BMI, they can work out if this also a factor to consider for life insurance with heart condition.

Note: if you have various other associated health issues, then we recommend you get Broker help & advice here if unsure, as this can be complex area.

For reference, as specialist brokers we've have been able to look into Life Insurance with a heart condition for these typical issues:

AnginaCardiac ArrestHeart Murmur
AngioplastyCardiomyopathyPacemaker
Aortic RegurgeCongenitalReplace Valve
Aortic StenosisFamilial HistoryStents
Atrial FibrillationHeart By PassTachycardia

Types of Life Insurance with Heart Condition

There are 2 main types of underwritten life insurance with heart condition issues in the UK Protection marketplace:

1] Term Insurance

Term Life Insurance is a simple plan that pays out a cash sum if you die during the fixed time period your policy runs for. The sum paid out on death insurance stays level for family lifecover or decreasing for mortgage protection, The premiums remain level whether you are near the policy beginning or end. Most plans also include free 'terminal illness' cover. You can choose options of Lump Sums or Family Income Benefits & also if you want your cover to be inflation proofed.

The longer the level term insurance runs, then the more expensive it costs ie; 40 years term maybe double or more the cost than 20 years, as the insurance risks are higher as you get older. Insurers may allow you to take a term insurance plan upto age 90.

2] Whole of Life Insurance

Whole of Life Insurance policy, always pays out if you die ie; whenever this happens (as long as you have kept up with monthly payments & T&C's). For someone with heart condition issues, this maybe the most expensive compared to term insurance, as it will always payout.

Note: Over 50's Lifecover asks no medical questions, so could always be a choice if your condition is poorly controlled against what heart rate is normal or you have other poor health issues.

Consider placing the policy into trust to help avoid probate or Inheritance Tax IHT issues.

What Heart Rate is Normal | Chances of making a claim
*stats varying re Covid 19

Heart Attack Health Insurance

If you have heart problems after you take out health insurance, you will usually get diagnosis and treatment in a private hospital. This may give faster access to any hospital specialists and treatments than you might on the NHS.

The issues are, if you have had a heart attack....is the time frame. Calling 999 emergency services for an ambulance, will usually send you direct to an NHS hospital. Unless you are deemed fit enough to move, then transfer out to a private hospital could be impractical. Check you policy wordings here for any claims.

Note: Re a heart attack health insurance isn’t usually meant for pre-existing or chronic conditions, so any heart conditions may well be excluded.

Does Critical Illness Cover Heart Attack?

Critical Illness Cover is an insurance policy that pays out a tax-free sum to help protect you, should you suffer a critical illness & become seriously ill, as specified by the Insurers during the policy term.

Does Critical Illness cover Heart Attack ? Yes, but it may also depend on when you first took out the critical illness coverage policy, as to your Insurers wording on any critical illness cover heart attack claims.

Over the last few years, most Insurers now follow the ABI minimum code below around heart attacks. These state they must be of a specified severity.

  • Death of heart muscle, due to inadequate blood supply
  • This has then resulted in all of the following evidence of acute myocardial infarction
  • Typical clinical symptoms (for example, characteristic chest pain)
  • New characteristic electrocardiographic changes.
  • The characteristic rise of cardiac enzymes or Troponins recorded at the following levels or higher:
  • Troponin T > 200 ng/L (0.2 ng/ml or 0.2 ug/L)
  • Troponin I > 500 ng/L (0.5 ng/ml or 0.5 ug/L)
  • The evidence must show a definite acute myocardial infarction
  • Typically for the above definition, the following are usually not covered:
    • Other acute coronary syndromes
    • Angina without myocardial infarction

Note: Some older critical illness plans from the 1990's may not have such generous heart attack wording as to their specified severity or they are cancer specific only eg; well woman insurance

Also, ideally if you are fit and healthy now, then we recommend you look into life cover and critical illness in some combination, should any heart attack prove fatal. The reason being on certain plans, you also have to survive a time-frame deadline to make a claim eg; survive 10/14 days. Any new critical illness cover policy, may well exclude any existing heart related conditions and be more expensive.

What Heart Rate is Normal | Income Protection PHI Insurance?

An Income Protection PHI Insurance will usually payout any claim benefits for heart conditions claims that keep you off working, based on your policy terms. It could be you were asked to have medical tests at the time you took out the plan, or Insurers had a GP report?

For example, your budget PHI plan says it will pay you after 4 weeks illness and for upto 2 years per policy claim and if unable to do your own occupation. If you are told by GP to now take 6/8 months off work to recover from your heart attack before returning back to work, then the PHI could payout an income to you tax free after 4 weeks for upto 6/8 months.

However, if at time of original PHI application you had a heart condition, then there may well be health rated terms & exclusions applied.

We recommend you get Broker help & advice here if unsure for any new PHI application, as this can be complex area.

Critical Illness Cover Heart Attack. Uk Life Insurance Quotes > 15 Secs
Heart Attack is the 2'nd most common insurance claim

What Heart Rate is Normal | Broker FAQ

Importance of Disclosure & Claims?

All Insurers are in business to protect, insure & payout. Lifecover is therefore based on your full disclosure at the time you take the original policy out ie; being 100% as honest & accurate as possible. It is not always easy to remember all your historic health details when applying.

The Consumer Insurance Act 2013 says you must not be acting careless, deliberate or reckless manner when applying. If so, it may not payout ! eg; If you have had angina related issues several years ago, then you must tell them (even if it costs more for life insurance angina issues).

Should you make a claim, your Insurers will send you a claim form for you to complete. Once received back, they will usually contact your GP to confirm any health details.

They will then assess if your insurance claim is valid and cross check if you originally disclosed all the correct details for angina life insurance. If you look at most Insurers recent claims payout, you will see that it is Good (but like most Insurers – not 100%).

What if my health changes after I have taken the policy out?

Any health or lifestyle changes since, usually does not void your existing life policy, if it wasn’t relevant at that time of initial insurance application. For example, you have a heart attack several years afterwards. In this instance, the insurers should not classify the original application for life insurance heart attack biased. It maybe the Insurers request GP reports when you originally apply, to check any health details disclosed. Likewise they may not.

So take care to doubly re-check on your application what you initially disclosed to the Insurers, as this information then stands now and in the future. Please check your original T&C’s.

Alternatively, if your own Insurers originally applied 'health rated terms' for life insurance heart issues, then it can be worth reviewing your application. It could be we could get better terms via another Insurer? Contact us for Broker help

Article on 'What Heart Rate is Normal' by Martyn Spencer Financial Adviser (2024)

For reassurance re health for men & women – we review many of the best Life Insurers selling Life Insurance in UK (inc NI)

NOTE: This generic article touches on various medical issues & information on "What Heart Rate is Normal". The latest health guidance on this may change regularly re Covid 19, so any article comments may not always be accurate. However, we are not GP's or health professionals so always seek medical advice & latest guidance via NHS if unsure.