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High Resting Heart Rate Linked to an Increased Risk of Premature Death, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 24, 2015 11:37 AM EST

A high resting heart rate is linked to an increased risk of dying prematurely, a new study found.

For this study, the research team headed by Dr. Dongfeng Zhang at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Shandong, China, examined data on more than two million people from 46 studies. The team compared the participants' resting heart rate, which is the rate measured when people are sitting or lying down, and risk of early death from any cause. The American Heart Association says that a normal rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

The team found that people with a resting heart rate of more than 80 beats per minute were 45 percent more likely to die from any disease than people with the lowest resting heart rates. People with a resting heart rate between 60 and 80 beats per minute had a 21 percent increased risk of death than people with the lowest rates.

The researchers also found that the faster the resting heart rate, the higher the risk. A 10-beats-per-mintue increase was tied to an increased risk of death from any disease by nine percent and an increased risk of death from heart disease by eight percent.

Zhang noted that even though absolute risk of death was very small, people should be more aware of what their resting heart rate is. If it is too high, increasing physical activity levels could help lower the rate and risk of premature death.

"Further studies are needed to determine whether using the resting heart rate to predict the risk of dying has meaningful impact and whether specific interventions to lower heart rate translates into improved outcomes," Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, commented.

The study was published in the CMAJ.

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