How many heartbeats does the average person have in one year?
Faustino R., Los Angeles
Your heartbeat, naturally, is by no means constant. The rate can vary from minute to minute, depending on stress and body temperature. In one famous, if rather grisly, experiment, a team of researchers in Utah in 1939 took an electrocardiogram of a man about to be executed by a firing squad. His heartbeat increased from 72 to 180 just before the shots were fired. Afterward, of course, the rate dropped sharply.
A rate of 72 to 80 beats per minute is generally considered normal for a healthy human being at rest. At birth, the rate is in the neighborhood of 130 beats per minute, with the figure decreasing through adolescence and then showing a slight upswing in old age. Women (and this seems to apply to the females of most species) have a faster heartbeat than men. Clams have the slowest heartbeats of all God’s creatures, varying from 2 beats per minute for a clam en repos to 20 for a clam in a state of extreme nervous excitement.
Since the solar year consists of 525,948 minutes and 48 seconds, a quick calculation at the rate of 80 BPM gives us a ballpark figure of 42,075,904 beats per year, give or take a couple mill. A reasonable estimate for the number of heartbeats in a lifetime is about three billion.
Send questions to Cecil via email@example.com.