Heart Rate May Be an Indicator of Future Diabetes Risk

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Heart rate measures may help identify a person's future risk of diabetes, researchers have proposed.

Heart rate measures may help identify a person’s future risk of diabetes, researchers have proposed.  Findings from the study are published in International Journal of Epidemiology

In 2006–2007, researchers measured heart rates during a baseline exam in Chinese adults (n=73,357). After a 5 minute rest, they recorded heart rates using a 12-lead electrocardiogram with participants lying on their back. A total of 17,463 prediabetic cases and 4,649 diabetic cases were identified during the 4-year follow-up exam. 

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Faster heart rates were positively tied to an increased risk of developing diabetes, impaired fasting glucose levels, and the conversion from impaired fasting glucose levels to diabetes within the same group. The researchers attribute the higher risk of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and conversion to diabetes to the faster heart rate, which is suggestive of lower automatic function. Specifically, each additional 10 beats per minute correlated with a 23% increased risk of diabetes, which is comparable to the effects of 3kg/m2 increase in body mass index (BMI). 

Study findings also support conclusions from seven previous studies which included 97,653 men and women; people with a fast heart rate had a 59% increased risk of diabetes vs. those with a slow heart rate. 

“This suggests that faster heart rate could be a novel pre-clinical marker or risk factor for diabetes,” said Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutritional sciences, Penn State and the study senior author.

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