Age-Related Decreases in Finger Sensitivity Can Produce Error in Palpated Heart-Rate Determination

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study attempted to determine the accuracy of measuring heart rate by radial artery palpation in elderly individuals. Elderly (ELD; n = 26) and young (Y; n = 21) individuals completed 3 intensity levels of exercise on a treadmill, each carried out on a separate day. Participants determined their heart rate by palpating the radial artery (PR) after exercise. In ELD, there were significant differences between PR and electrocardiogram (ECG; p = .007). Heart-rate errors at each intensity of exercise were 7.2 ± 12.5, 6.6 ± 15.7, and 10.1 ± 16.5 beats/min. There were no differences in PR and ECG in Y. Fingertip sensitivity was significantly lower in ELD than in Y. A significant, negative correlation existed (r = -.56, n = 26) between heart-rate error and fingertip sensitivity in ELD. These data suggest that self-conducted PR by elderly individuals fails to accurately estimate heart rate. This appears to result from lessened vibrotactile sensitivity in the fingers.

Nobuo Takeshima and Setsuko Ueya are with the Institute of Natural Sciences at Nagoya City University, Nagoya 467-8502, Japan. William F. Brechue is with the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana State University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Kiyoji Tanaka is with the Institute of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305, Japan.