Pulse is the regular expansion of the arteries caused by the surge of blood that occurs each time the heart beats (contracts). It can be felt by gently pressing the fingers on certain blood vessels that are close to the skin's surface. Pulse is also called heart rate, which is the number of times the heart beats per minute (bpm). The wrist and neck are common places to take a pulse. Doctors usually check a persons pulse at checkups or in an emergency. A weak pulse or a change in pulse rate or rhythm may be a sign of heart disease or other problem. One way to know how hard you are exercising is to use your target heart rate. Your target heart rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate.