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What is a Bounding Pulse?

A bounding pulse is a strong and forceful heartbeat felt through the arteries. It's often a sign of increased cardiac output or a cardiovascular anomaly. Accompanied by vivid images, our article breaks down the causes and implications of this palpable rhythm. Wondering how it affects your health? Join us as we explore the significance of a bounding pulse.
J.M. Densing
J.M. Densing

A bounding pulse is an extremely strong and powerful pulse, usually experienced for short periods of time. It is also sometimes called a leaping or forceful pulse. A pulse is the heartbeat rate that can be felt at various arteries throughout the body. At times a bounding pulse is powerful enough that it can actually be seen pulsing underneath the skin as well as felt.

When a person has a bounding pulse, it can usually be felt quite easily at a number of points throughout the body, where an artery can be pressed gently against a bone. A few of these pulse points that are commonly used include the carotid artery in the neck, radial artery in the wrist, popliteal artery behind the knee, and a few other points. When it is powerful enough to be seen, it is usually visible in an artery that is located near the skin.

A personal pulse and blood pressure monitor.
A personal pulse and blood pressure monitor.

There are several normal conditions that can cause a bounding pulse. Some of these include strenuous exercise, anxiety, pregnancy, fever and alcohol use. A bounding pulse caused by one of these normal conditions is usually accompanied by a rapid heartbeat as well. At times, the person experiencing it will be able to feel the sensation of the pulse without touching a pulse point. It's not a cause for concern and frequently disappears on its own, or after a few minutes rest.

Strenuous exercise can be a cause of a temporary and harmless bounding pulse.
Strenuous exercise can be a cause of a temporary and harmless bounding pulse.

Occasionally a bounding pulse is not caused by normal conditions and can be indicative of a more serious medical issue. In these cases, the bounding pulse is often a sign that there is too much fluid present in the circulatory system, a condition called fluid overload, and can occur along with a rapid heartbeat or alone. A few examples of these medical issues include high blood pressure, aortic valve regurgitation, heart failure and chronic kidney failure.

A bounding pulse may result in high blood pressure.
A bounding pulse may result in high blood pressure.

A doctor should be consulted if a person experiences a bounding pulse that appears suddenly, and is particularly severe, persistent and does not appear to be caused by normal circumstances. This is especially important if it is accompanied by other symptoms, or if it does not disappear after resting. The doctor will do a physical exam that may include heart monitoring, and will ask a series of questions designed to figure out the cause. He or she will rule out normal causes first, and then investigate further.

A bounding pulse is very strong and forceful.
A bounding pulse is very strong and forceful.

Once the doctor has some information, diagnostic testing may also be done. This can include a chest x-ray, blood testing such as a complete blood count, an echocardiogram, and an electrocardiogram, as well as other tests as needed. With test results and other information the doctor should be able to make a diagnosis, and recommend treatment options.

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Discussion Comments

anon344830

I can see my pulse in my wrist; it is bulging and it is strong. I can feel it and I can see it. I first noticed it today, and it seems like sudden onset. I had a stress echo last week, and my cardiologist said my heart is fine, I have a normal blood pressure, and I have no other symptoms, but I know this can't be normal. What do I do?

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    • A personal pulse and blood pressure monitor.
      By: Stephen VanHorn
      A personal pulse and blood pressure monitor.
    • Strenuous exercise can be a cause of a temporary and harmless bounding pulse.
      By: william87
      Strenuous exercise can be a cause of a temporary and harmless bounding pulse.
    • A bounding pulse may result in high blood pressure.
      By: niyazz
      A bounding pulse may result in high blood pressure.
    • A bounding pulse is very strong and forceful.
      By: jovannig
      A bounding pulse is very strong and forceful.
    • Electrocardiogram tests are often used with other tests when diagnosing a patient's bounding pulse.
      By: Monkey Business
      Electrocardiogram tests are often used with other tests when diagnosing a patient's bounding pulse.