Heart Health

07 June 2010

Pulse of the nation picks up

Soccer legend Lucas Radebe has urged the thousands of fans descending upon SA for the World Cup kick-off to become more aware of their pulse rate during World Health Rhythm Week.

While thousands of fans descend upon South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup kick off, individuals around the globe will also become more aware of their pulse rate during World Heart Rhythm Week ( 7- 13 June 2010).

The theme this year is "know your pulse" and the initiative’s aim is to raise awareness about heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) and sudden cardiac arrest or death (SCA). These conditions can occur in apparently healthy, young and fit people, and are often caused by an arrhythmic (out of rhythm) heartbeat of which the person is unaware. 

The FIFA Medical Committee views the prevention of SCA as a major objective of their preventive and educational efforts. To this end, a standardised pre-competition medical assessment of all players was implemented at FIFA competitions and an emergency action plan for incidents on the pitch and in stadiums is part of the requirements for local organisers and promoted by the "Football emergency medicine programme" of FIFA.


  • To assess your resting pulse rate in your wrist, sit down for 5 minutes beforehand. Remember that any stimulants taken before the reading will affect the rate (such as caffeine or nicotine). You will need a watch or clock with a second hand.
  • Take off your watch and hold your left of right hand out with your palm facing up and your elbow slightly bent.
  • With your other hand place your index and middle fingers on your wrist, at the base of your thumb. Your fingers should sit between the bone on the edge of your wrist and the stringly tendon attached to your thumb. You may need to move your fingers around a little to find the pulse. Keep firm pressure on your wrist with your fingers in order to feel your pulse.
  • Count for 30 seconds, and multiply by 2 to get your heart rate in beats per minute. If your heart rhythm is irregular, you should count for 1 minute (and do not multiply). 

  • If your pulse seems to be racing some or most of the time and you are feeling unwell.
  • If your pulse seems to be slow some or most of the time and you are feeling unwell.
  • If your pulse feels irregular ("jumping around"), even if you do not feel unwell.


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