Your Resting Heart Rate Shows Your Condition
This is the suggestion of a new study in Sweden which found that men with a resting heart rate of 75 bpm had double the risk of an early death even though the rate is well within the normal range of 50 to 100 bpm. This increase in risk was held for both death from any cause and deaths which are linked to heart disease.
What's more, every additional heart beats per minute increased a person's overall risk of early death by 3% and their risk of heart disease by 2%.
Based on these results, doctors might want to keep an eye on patients' resting heart rate according to the American Heart Association. A gradual rise in heart rate could mean trouble ahead of your heart health.
"You wouldn't have thought you'd have that level of impact from a change in your resting heart rate. if the heart rate's higher, it's going to possibly point you in a direction to be more vigilant with those folks,"
Bufalino, senior vice president and senior medical director of cardiology-AMG at Advocate Health Care in Naperville, Ill.
At the same time, Bufalino said that it's "a bit of a stretch" to consider that resting heart rate is an independent heart risk factor. Rather a rising heart rate probably is a red flag for other well-established heart risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking and a family history of heart problems.
For this study, researchers led by Dr. Salim Bary Barywani, from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, tracked about 800 men born in 1943 and living in Sweden. In 1993, these men filled out questionnaires on their lifestyle and health, and underwent a comprehensive medical exam that included measuring resting heart rate, the study authors said.
Resting heart rate was measured again in 2003 and 2014 for those still alive and willing to take part.
FOR A FREE QUOTE
During the 21 year study, around 15% of the original group of men died before they were 71, whilst 30% developed cardiovascular disease, the researchers reported. A resting heart rate of 75 or higher in 1993 was associated with a doubled risk of death or heart disease during the subsequent years, compared with a resting heart rate of 55 or lower, the findings showed.
A stable heart rate between the ages of 50 and 60 was associated with a 44% lower risk of heart disease between the ages of 60 and 70, according to the report. The researchers noted that because this is an observational study, a true cause-and-effect relationship can't be established.
"It seems as if that's where attention should continue to be focused rather than on resting heart rate, which can vary due to a whole slew of reasons, frankly. If I see a patient in that age range with a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute, I'm not necessarily going to look at that as a risk factor, but I would continue to look at the rest of their risk factor profile."
Dr. Prashant Vaishnava, a cardiologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
However, too slow isn't good as well -- a heart rate down in the 40s mark can indicate that the heart's natural pacemaker might be failing. The extremes of real slow and real fast, those are well-established markers for us to observe and intervene.
Vaishnava said people should probably "take these findings with a grain of salt," given that the study involved only men and that other factors might have played a role in those who died early.
People who have an elevated resting heart rate can improve it through more aerobic exercise. They also ought to talk with their doctor about managing other heart health risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol.