How do I check someone's pulse?

You can check a person's pulse by putting two fingers on the inside of their wrist or on their neck.

To measure the pulse in someone’s wrist:

  • hold the person’s arm so it’s straight, with the palm of their hand facing upwards
  • place your index (first finger) and middle fingers on their wrist, at the base of their thumb
  • using a clock or watch that counts seconds, count how many beats you feel in a minute, or count them over 30 seconds and multiply the number by two to work how many beats a minute
  • if you can’t find their pulse, try moving your fingers around a bit and pressing a little harder

To measure the pulse in someone’s neck:

  • place your index and middle fingers on the side of their neck, in the soft hollow area just beside their windpipe
  • using a clock or watch that counts seconds, count how many beats you feel in a minute, or count them over 30 seconds and multiply the number by two to work how many beats a minute
  • if you can’t find their pulse, try moving your fingers around a bit

A normal resting heart rate for an adult is 60-100 beats per minute. However, this can vary, depending on things such as age, stress levels, fitness and any medication the person is taking.

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Page last reviewed: 17/12/2015

Next review due: 17/12/2017