Resting Heart Rate: A Red Flag?

resting heart rateWe hear about heart issues, heart attacks, heart disease, resting heart rate and more but what does that mean to any of us really? Do we understand or appreciate what the numbers mean?

In the past when the term “resting heart rate” was used, we were advised that 60 to 100 beats per minute were the norm. There is recent research that indicates that this “norm” should not be considered the standard for good health.

Studies show that a resting pulse or resting heart rate at the high end of “normal” may be a cause for concern. Why? Higher pulse rates may be an indicator of greater risk for stroke and or heart disease.

One study published in The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health followed 50,000 healthy men and women over twenty years. The statisticians noted the relationship between a resting heart rate at the high end of normal and the increased risk of dying of a heart attack.

The results showed that over 4,000 of the men died of heart disease and the authors of the report found that resting heart rate was a good predictor of a person’s dying of a heart attack.

The following is an incredible piece of information that the report shared.

Resting Heart Rate

“For each rising increment of 10 heart beats per minute, the risk of dying of a heart attack increased 18 percent among women and about 10 percent in men.”*

In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that in a group of adults that had resting heart rates over 80 beats per minute were more likely to become obese and develop diabetes after 20 years.

We need to be aware of the possibility that a resting heart rate of more than 80 beats per minute might be a red flag.

The general theory is that lower resting heart rates suggest more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. As an example, a resting heart ratetrained athlete may have a normal resting heart rate that is 40 beats per minute.

Your heart rate is measured by taking your pulse and counting the number of beats in 15 seconds.  When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Then multiply that number by 4 to calculate the number of beats per minute.

Everyone is different and various factors may effect someone’s heart rate but it is important to remember that high or low heart rates may indicate a problem. It is always prudent to consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns especially when there are other signs or symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath or fainting.

References cited:

* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.mayoclinic.org

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