What is Pulse Deficit?

What is a Pulse Deficit?

The concept of a pulse deficit can be both confusing and frightening if you’re not a member of the medical community, but it has a direct bearing on the health of your heart and can be life threatening if not treated properly and allowed to get worse.

It sounds confusing, but is quite simple. When your heart beats, it sends blood through the arteries of your body. This produces a noticeable pulse which can be felt. Normally these two events are in synch, but it is when they are not in synch, the pulse and the beat of your heart, that problems can arise.

What Causes a Pulse Deficit?

There are several causes for a pulse deficit, some of which are not necessarily indicators of heart disease, such as heavy exercise. Other causes of a pulse deficit are not so innocent, however, and can include low blood pressure, periods of extreme anxiety or stress, extended periods of chronic pain, and bodily injury or trauma, including blood loss.

What happens when there is a pulse deficit is that when the heart beats, but there is no pulse of blood that comes after. This creates a pulse deficit.

Man with hand over heart

How is it Treated?

Observing that someone has a pulse deficit is fairly straightforward. A doctor or nurse listens to your chest with a stethoscope and notes the heartbeat, but when they attempt to take your pulse, do not notice the same number of pulse beats.

The symptoms of pulse deficit include a noticeably decreased resting heart rate and a long-term consistent history of having a different resting heart rate for your age group.

So the question becomes what kind of treatments are available for pulse deficits? Fortunately, there are many simple, easily available treatments. Relaxation and rest, plus mindfulness and meditation, have proven both simple and surprisingly useful for the treatment of pulse deficits.

Other treatments, however, aren’t so simple. If the pulse deficit is caused by a heart valve problem, then it becomes necessary to determine which of the heart’s four values is causing the trouble, and, once determined, an open-heart procedure is performed to replace the damaged heart valve.

It is important for someone to get their physical exam every year, to increase the chance that a doctor may be able diagnose a pulse deficit and from there, investigate the cause and determine the best treatment.

About Doctor Ciuffo

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He is originally from Italy, having immigrated to the US in order to attend medical school. He has many years of experience in cardiac and thoracic surgery, including the pioneering use of minimally invasive techniques including beating heart surgery.