The resting heart rate, that is a person’s heart rate when they are relaxed, sitting or lying down, varies from person to person and depends on a variety of genetic and lifestyle factors.

For adults, a normal resting heart rate ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates of around 40 beats per minute.

High resting heart rates have been associated with heart disease and functional decline. Previous research has also found resting heart rate to be a risk factor for death related to heart disease.

Researchers investigated this association further, comparing resting heart rate and heart related outcomes including coronary heart disease, stroke and sudden death in the general population as well as in people with high blood pressure and diabetes.

Researchers reviewed evidence from studies that analysed resting heart rate with regards to coronary artery disease, stroke, sudden death, non-heart diseases and cancer outcomes. Participants were from the general population or were people with high blood pressure or diabetes.

Increasing resting heart rates were associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and non-heart diseases in all populations. Increasing resting heart rate was also associated with sudden death in people with high blood pressure and diabetes.

Implications

The results of this review suggest that resting heart rate may play a role in predicting disease outcomes.

High heart rates may be a marker of various things including chronic stress and anxiety, which may contribute to poor health outcomes. It may be worth routinely measuring your resting heart rate and noting any changes over time, particularly if you have other risk factors for heart disease.

Last Reviewed: 28/08/2019

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

Zhang, D et al. (2016). Association between resting heart rate and coronary artery disease, stroke, sudden death and noncardiovascular diseases: a meta-analysis. CMAJ. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.60050.