Researchers have linked an increase in resting heart rate (RHR) over a 10-year period with a heightened risk of death from ischemic heart disease among men and women without known cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Investigators took two measurements of RHR, approximately 10 years apart, in 13,499 men and 15,826 women without known CVD. During a mean 12 years of follow-up, 3,038 people died, with 388 deaths caused by ischemic heart disease.
Compared with participants with an RHR of less than 70 beats per minute at both measurements (8.2 deaths per 10,000 person-years), the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.9 for participants with an RHR of less than 70 beats per minute at the first measurement but greater than 85 beats per minute at the second measurement (17.2 deaths/10,000 person-years).
For those with an RHR of 70-85 beats per minute at the first measurement and greater than 85 beats per minute at the second measurement, the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.8 (17.4 deaths/10,000 person-years). The associations for total mortality were similar but generally weaker than those observed for ischemic heart disease mortality.
A decrease in RHR showed no general mortality benefit. “Information on RHR and its time-related changes are easy to obtain and follow up and maybe useful in identifying asymptomatic people who could benefit from measures of primary prevention, but further study in this area is warranted,” the researchers wrote (JAMA. 2011;306:2579-2587).