Speed of heart beats predicts if you will die early



*Chinese researchers found that risk of dying from any illness raises by around nine per cent for every extra 10 beats per minute

A new study suggests that resting heart rate can be used as a ‘death test’ to predict your chance of keeling over in the next two decades.

The research was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Although doctors have known for some time that people with low resting heart rates are usually fitter and more healthy, it is the first time the risk has been quantified.

People who have a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute (bpm) are 45 per cent more likely to die of any cause in the next 20 years compared to those with the lowest measured heart rate of 45 bpm.

Most people’s resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm but the hearts of professional athletes beat around 40 times per minute.

The researchers found that the risk of dying from any illness or health condition raises by around nine per cent for every 10 bpm over. The chance of suffering a fatal heart attack or stroke rises eight per cent.

“The association of resting heart rate with risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality is independent of traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease, suggesting that resting heart rate is a predictor of mortality in the general population,” said Dr. Dongfeng Zhang, of the Medical College of Qingdao University, Shandong, China.

To find out the link between heart rate and death, researchers trawled through 46 studies which involved more than 1.2 million people who were monitored for an average of 21 years. Just over half were under the age of 50.

Over that time, there were 78, 349 deaths including 25, 800 from heart problems.

The team found a linear increase in resting heart rate and death. By the time heart rate had reached 90 bpm the chance of early death had nearly doubled.

The authors suggest taking a measurement of heart rate at night when the body is in its greatest state of relaxation and a more accurate reading is likely.

“The available evidence does not fully establish resting heart rate as a risk factor, but there is no doubt that elevated resting heart rate serves as a marker of poor health status,” added Zhang.

“Our results highlight that people should pay more attention to their resting heart rate for their health, and also indicate the potential importance of physical activity to lower resting heart rate.”

The researchers say the information could be used to develop an algorithm that considers both resting heart rate and cardiovascular risk factors to help doctors assess resting heart rate in clinical care.

*Adapted from dailytelegraphuk

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