Cardiovascular System - Heart Rate Development

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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.

Links: 2009 Lecture - Early Vascular Development | 2009 Lecture - Heart | Cardiovascular System Development | Student Project - ILP Heart Embryology Education | OMIM selected abnormality entries | Heart original page


  • Human Embryology (2nd ed.) Larson Ch7 p151-188 Heart
  • The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch14: p304-349
  • Before we Are Born (5th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch12; p241-254
  • Essentials of Human Embryology Larson Ch7 p97-122 Heart
  • Human Embryology Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald Ch13-17: p77-111

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2019, July 22) Embryology Cardiovascular System - Heart Rate Development. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2019, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G