(HealthDay News) – For healthy middle-aged men, resting heart rate (RHR) is associated with an increased risk of mortality, according to a study published online April 17 in Heart.

Magnus Thorsten Jensen, MD, from Copenhagen University, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 2,798 healthy middle-aged employed men with sinus rhythm and without known cardiovascular disease or diabetes who were followed for 16 years. Participants were categorized according to RHR, and the correlation with mortality was examined.

During follow-up, there were 1,082 deaths. The researchers identified an inverse association between RHR and physical fitness. After adjustment for physical fitness, leisure-time physical activity, and other cardiovascular risk factors, increasing RHR was associated with mortality in a graded manner. Men with RHR >90 had a hazard ratio of 3.06 compared to those with RHR ≤50. For every additional 10 beats per minutes, the risk of mortality increased 16%. There was a borderline association noted for smoking, with a 20% increase in risk per 10 beats per minute increase in RHR for smokers compared with 14% for nonsmokers (P=0.07).

“These results suggest that in healthy subjects, elevated resting heart rate is not merely a marker of poor general fitness but an independent risk factor,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)