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Jump in Resting Heart Rate Might Signal Higher Death Risk
Date:12/20/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A rise in resting heart rate during middle age signals an increased risk of dying from heart disease, new research indicates.

People whose heart rates increased from under 70 beats per minute to more than 85 beats per minute over 10 years had a 90 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease compared to people whose heart rates stayed around 70 beats per minute, according to the large study.

"Resting heart rate is one of the simplest measures in medicine and everyone can do that by themselves at home. From cross-sectional studies, it is known that a person's resting heart rate is related to the relative risk of premature cardiovascular disease and death. However, it has not, before now, been associated with an increased risk of premature cardiovascular death," said study senior author Ulrik Wisloff, director of the K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine in Trondheim, Norway.

"Our observations suggest that resting heart rate may be an important prognostic marker for ischemic heart disease and total mortality," said Wisloff, who added that changes in resting heart rate may signal the need for lifestyle changes.

Results of the study are published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wisloff said that factors that can influence heart rate include genetics, age, activity level, diet and whether or not someone smokes.

The current study included nearly 13,500 men and 16,000 women. The study participants, all of whom lived in Norway, had no known heart disease at the start of the study. The average age of participants was about 52 years at the start of the study.

Resting heart rate measurements were taken at the start of the study, and then again about 10 years later. After 12 years of follow-up, 3,038 study participants had died. Nearly 400 deaths were from heart disease
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