What Is a Pulse Deficit?

What is pulse deficit you may ask. A pulse deficit is a condition that affects the relationship between the pulse and heart. It can be very dangerous if not treated properly, so understanding what a pulse deficit is important. This is especially true if heart conditions run in the family.

There is no need to worry, however. Once you know the symptoms of pulse deficit, it’ll be much easier to treat it appropriately. And, fortunately, there are many treatments for pulse deficit that are easily available.

What is a Pulse Deficit?

When the heart beats blood through the body, it can be felt as a pulse. This pulse is caused by the vibrations of the blood moving through the arteries. Typically, the pulse rate is in synchronization with the heartbeat. This means that every time the heart beats, there is a pulse rate.

However, there are times when the heart beats faster than the pulse rate. When there are fewer pulses than heartbeats, a pulse deficit develops. This sometimes referred to as “irregular heartbeat” or “atypical pulse rate”.

Pulse Deficit Alert

Causes of a Pulse Deficit

There are many reasons why a pulse deficit may develop including:

  • Heightened states of anxiety
  • Following a period of exercise or other physical activity
  • Situations of extreme or chronic pain
  • Heavy blood loss
  • Bodily Injury
  • Low blood pressure or hypotension
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Overactive thyroid gland

It’s also important to consider which heart valve needs replacing. If the mitral valve (valve responsible for closing off the upper left chamber of the heart) requires a replacement, a mechanical heart valve is said to last until age 70. However, if it’s the aortic valve (the valve that closes off the lower left heart chamber) that requires a replacement, mechanical heart valves are not as effective beyond age 55.

Symptoms of Pulse Deficit

Understanding the symptoms of heart failure can help detect early signs of other problems. Some symptoms include:

  • Increased heartbeats
  • A noticeably decreased pulse rate, especially if it occurs rapidly
  • Long-term recorded differences in pulse rate or heartbeat from the general norm for one’s age range

Medical practitioners can also provide resources, tools, and knowledge to detect atypical pulse rates.

Treatments for Pulse Deficit

Relaxation and rest can help to restore the heart rate and pulse back to a normal rhythm. Other techniques including mindfulness and meditation can help bring concentrated awareness to the heart and pulse. This can be helpful, especially if a medical practitioner directs these practices.

Medication or surgery may also be a requirement. Pulse deficits can be signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a more serious condition which can increase the threat of stroke and blood clots. A doctor might recommend changes in diet prior to surgery, however.

Yearly checkups are one of the best ways of treating the problem before it gets worse. While a pulse deficit may not be observable to the person experiencing it, a doctor may be much more easily able to diagnose it. By visiting the doctor for regular checkups, the early discovery of pulse deficits may be possible – before they lead to AFib, heart failure, stroke, or death.

A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery