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Having resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute in 50s could double chances of early death


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Having a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute (bpm) in middle age could double your risk of an early death, research suggests.Men with a resting heart rate of 75 or above in their fifties were twice as likely to die within the next two decades compared to those with a rate of 55bpm or less.

And every additional resting heartbeat per minute was linked to a three per cent greater risk of death from any cause.The research was carried out by the University of Gothenburg and led by Dr. Salim Bary Barywani, of the department of molecular and clinical medicine.

Resting heart rate is the number of times the organ beats per minute while you are not exercising.Normal reading ranges from between 50 to 100bpm, the authors wrote in the British Medical Journal’s publication Open Heart. A lower heart rate generally indicates better cardiovascular health and overall fitness. To uncover how changes in our heart rate may affect the risk of an early death, the researchers analysed 798 men. They were all born in 1943. The men completed a questionnaire in 1993 on their lifestyle, stress and any family history of heart disease.

They were also given a medical check-up, which included measuring their resting heart rate. The men were divided into four groups: Those with a resting heart rate of 55bpm or less; 56-to-65bpm; 66-to-75bpm; and more than 75bpm. Resting heart rate was measured again in 2003 and 2014 among the 654 and 536 participants, respectively, who were still alive and willing to take part.
During the 21-year study period, 119 – just under 15 per cent – of the participants died before their 71st birthday.

And 237 – nearly 28 per cent – developed cardiovascular disease. This is a general term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. Some 113 – slightly over 14 per cent – developed coronary heart disease, when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Results revealed those with a resting heart rate of 75 or above in 1993 were twice as likely to die from any cause within 21 years compared with those with a heart rate of 55bpm or under.

And having a ‘stable’ resting heart rate between 1993 and 2003 – when the men were 50-to-60 – was associated with an 44 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease over the next 11 years compared to those whose heart rates increased during this time.Results further found every additional heartbeat per minute was linked to a three per cent greater risk of death from any cause.

This was also associated with a one per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a two per cent increase in the odds of suffering from coronary heart disease. The men whose 1993 heart rates were over 55bpm were more likely to be smokers, inactive and stressed. They were also more likely to have ‘heart disease risk factors’, such as hypertension or obesity.

The researchers stress, however, their study was observational and cannot establish the cause of these deaths or heart-related events. It also only included men of a set age and may not apply to the general population.Nonetheless, they hope their study will lead to our resting heart rate being monitored for changes that may uncover our future heart disease risk.

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