Abstract

This study evaluated resting heart rate as an independent predictor of myocardial infarction, coronary
death, and stroke in women. The association between resting heart rate and these coronary events has
been uncertain in women. Postmenopausal women were examined for approximately 8 years. The results
indicate that resting heart rate is an independent predictor of coronary events, with a higher heart rate
associated with greater risk. This study showed that simple measurement of resting heart rate
independently predicts coronary events, but not stroke, in postmenopausal women. Background: Cardiovascular disease remains a significant problem in elderly. Knowing predictors of such problem could assist health professionals in identifying high-risk groups, detecting the disease at an early stage, or monitoring this health concern. Resting heart rate has been shown to independently predict coronary events in men. Evidence to date suggests that this relation is weaker or absent in women. The association between resting heart rate and stroke also has been uncertain in women. Therefore, this study evaluated resting heart rate as an independent predictor of myocardial infarction, coronary death, and stroke in women. The average resting heart rate is 75 beats per minute for adult females and 70 beats per minute for adult males, ranging between 60 to 80 beats per minute. Resting heart rate usually rises with age and is generally lower in physically fit people. Resting heart rate was found to be a good determination to how healthy a person is.

Methods: Between 1993 and 1998, 129,135 postmenopausal women were examined. By palpating the pulse for 30 seconds, resting heart rate was measured by a trained observer after the participants sat quietly for five minutes. Information on variables (e.g., physical activity, hypertension, alcohol consumption, depression, and age) that might be expected to affect heart rate, coronary heart disease or risk of stroke was obtained from a self-reported questionnaire. Every six months, participants reported emergency room visits, overnight stays in hospital, and outpatient coronary revascularization procedures. The relationship between resting heart rate and coronary events under study were investigated.

Findings: Higher resting heart rate was independently associated with coronary events, but not with stroke. The relation between resting heart rate and coronary events did not differ between white women and women from other ethnic groups, or between women with and without diabetes. The relation between resting heart rate and coronary events was stronger in women aged 50-64 than in those aged 65- 79.

Conclusions: Resting heart rate can be a low tech and inexpensive measure that predicts myocardial infarction or coronary death, but not stroke, in women. The relation between resting heart rate and risk of coronary events was stronger in younger postmenopausal women than in older ones. Although more elaborate, time consuming, and expensive methods are available to assess autonomic tone, this study demonstrated that simple measurement of resting heart rate independently predicts coronary events, but not stroke, in postmenopausal women.

References

Hsia J, Larson JC, Ockene JK, Sarto GE, Allison MA, Hendrix SL, Robinson JG, Lacroix
AZ, Manson JE. Resting heart rate as a low tech predictor of coronary events in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 2009; 338: b219.