An increased risk for violent criminality in males was seen in those with a low resting heart rate in late adolescence, an article published in JAMA has shown.
Low resting heart rate has been perceived either as an indicator of chronically low levels of psychological arousal, driving some people to seek stimulating experiences, or as a marker of weakened responses to aversive and stressful stimuli, driving some people to fearless behavior and risk-taking. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and the University of Helsinki, Finland, studied the association of resting heart rate in late adolescence as a predictor of violent criminality later in life on Swedish men born from 1959–1991 (n=710,264) with up to 35.7 years of follow-up. At about 18 years old, the men had their resting heart rate and blood pressure measured at mandatory military conscription testing. In the nearly 12.9 million person-years of follow-up, there were 40,093 men convicted of a violent crime.
Men with the lowest resting heart rate (≤60 beats per minute; n=132,595) had a 39% higher risk of being convicted for violent crimes vs. men with the highest resting heart rate (≥83 beats per minute; n=139,511). There was also a 25% higher risk of being convicted of nonviolent crimes in men with the lowest resting heart rate vs. the highest resting heart rate.
Study findings support that a low resting heart rate during adolescence increases the risk for violent and nonviolent antisocial behaviors in adulthood, authors concluded.
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