HAVING a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute or higher doubles the risk of dying young, a study suggests.
Blokes whose heart rate increased between the ages of 50 and 60 were also more likely to develop heart disease.
A lower resting rate indicates better fitness and more efficient heart function, with a rate of 50 to 100bpm normal.
Researchers say fellas should try to keep their heart rate down as they age by exercising regularly, eating healthily and quitting smoking.
The boffins took the heart rate of hundreds of men on two occasions, a decade apart.
They then followed them for a further 11 years to see how many of them died or were treated for heart disease or stroke.
Twice as likely to die young
Those with a heart rate of 75bpm or higher at the start of the study were twice as likely to die as those with a rate of 55 or below.
And men whose rate remained stable between the two tests were 44 per cent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than if it had increased.
Every additional beat increase was associated with a 3 per cent higher risk of death from any cause and a 1 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
It was also linked to 2 per cent higher risk of coronary heart disease.
How to check your resting heart rate
YOU can check your heart rate by taking your pulse and counting the number of beats per minute.
To test your resting heart rate it’s important you have been resting for at least five minutes.
Then you can check your pulse.
You can find your pulse either in your wrist – close to the base of your thumb.
Or you can find it in your neck, by pressing in to the side of your neck under your jaw.
Once you’ve found your pulse:
- count the number of beats you feel for 60 seconds
- count the number for 30 seconds and multiply by two
That will give you your resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).
The NHS considers a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 bpm is normal.
The fitter you are the lower your resting heart rate will be.
Athletes tend to have a heart rate in the region of 40 to 60 bpm.
If you’re worried about your heart rate, see your GP.
Study leader Dr Salim Barywani, from the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, said: “Monitoring patients’ resting heart rate over time may identify those at increased risk of premature death.
“Those found to be at increased risk of dying young or developing heart disease can be given additional lifestyle advice, with a focus on exercise and diet.”
During the 21-year monitoring period, 119 of the original 798 men died before their 71st birthday and 237 developed cardiovascular disease.
Some 113 developed coronary heart disease.
Men whose rate at the start of the trial was higher than 55bpm were more likely to be smokers, less physically active and more stressed.
They were also more likely to have other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as higher blood pressure and weight.
MORE ON HEART DISEASE
Ashleigh Li, from the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research only shows that a link may exist, it can’t tell us why.
“As the study only involved men, we need a lot more data to really investigate whether this link is true for all of us – men and women of any age.”
The findings are published in the journal Open Heart.