Cardiovascular System - Heart Rate Development

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Introduction

Heart rate (beats / minute) is a measurement that can be made from early in development (when the heart first starts) through embryonic and fetal stages into labor and birth. It is a common clinical diagnostic tool, but data can be variable between countries and institutions.

Early ultrasonographic measurement of embryonic heart rate (EHR) shows a steady increase from Stage 9-10 (75 beats/minute) to Stage 18 (130 beats/minute) and on to Stage 20, following which a gradual decrease in EHR occurs (More? Embryonic Heart Rate). This increase correlates with heart development and a low EHR is used as an indicator of developmental failure and likely abortion. Late stethoscope measurements of fetal heart rate can monitor fetal stress and identifies the characteristic "lub-dub" heart valve sounds.