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Scientific letter: self-pulse palpation increases heart rhythm regularity
  1. Felix J Loschetter1,
  2. Philip Langley2
  1. 1School of Biomedical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Medical Physics Department, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip Langley, Medical Physics Department, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; philip.langley{at}

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To the Editor Self-pulse palpation is commonly used to measure heart rate, and increasingly, it is being advocated as a self-check for detecting atrial fibrillation where an ‘irregularly irregular’ pulse is a characteristic feature. High-profile campaigns such as the ‘Know Your Pulse campaign’ have promoted self-pulse checking.1 It is surprising then that the effect of self-pulse palpation on heart rate and rhythm is unknown. As a first step, our study focuses on the effects of self-pulse palpation in healthy individuals without abnormal heart rhythms in resting conditions. The aim was to quantify heart rate changes due to self-pulse palpation and their potential impact on arrhythmia detection.

We conducted a simple experiment to assess the changes in heart rate characteristics resulting from self-pulse palpation. The study was approved by the University Ethical Review Panel and conducted in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. All participants provided written informed consent. Prior to participation, subjects received a participant information sheet and written instructions on performing self-pulse palpation from the radial artery as published by the UK’s Arrhythmia Alliance for their Know Your Pulse campaign.2 Hence subjects could practice self-pulse palpation before commencing the study. The experiment required participants to determine their heart rate by self-pulse …

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  • Contributors PL designed the study. FJL undertook data collection. PL and FJL analysed the data and prepared the manuscript.

  • Funding The study was partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre based at Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Newcastle University ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.