A high resting heart rate is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death in men. The study found that a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute (BPM) was associated with double the risk of early death risk from all causes.
Furthermore, an increase of resting heart rate for men in their 50s was associated with a higher risk of heart disease over the course of 11 years.
The study randomly selected a group of men over the age of 50 from the general population. In 1993, 798 of the 1,450 participants filled in questionnaires regarding lifestyle, family history of heart disease, and stress levels. All participants were given comprehensive health exams, which recorded their resting heart rates.
The men were then divided into one of four groups based on their resting heart rate: 55 or fewer bpm; 56-65 bpm; 66-75 bpm; and more than 75 bpm.
Resting heart rate was taken again in 2003 and 2014. During the 21-year follow-up period, 115 men died before their 71st birthday, 237 nearly developed heart disease and 113 developed heart disease.
Having a resting heart rate of 75 or higher in 1993 was associated with double the risk of developing heart disease compared to those with a resting heart rate of 55 or less. Stable heart rates between 1993 and 2014 were associated with a 44 percent lower risk of heart disease over the course of 11 years. Lastly, a resting heart rate that increased by three bpm was associated with a higher risk of all-cause death.
Although the study was observational, it does reveal clinical implications, as physicians should monitor their patients resting heart rate as a possible risk factor of impending heart disease and work with their patients to try and reduce their resting heart rate.