People who have “prehypertension” and an elevated heart rate at rest have a greater risk of heart disease and death than comparable people with a lower resting heart rate, a new study shows.
“A heart rate above 80 beats per minute at rest is associated with increased risk of heart disease in people with high blood pressure, and, in this latest study, even in people with borderline high blood pressure,” study chief Dr. Dana E. King told Reuters Health.
Prehypertension is a term doctors use to describe people with blood pressure at the high end of normal. While hypertension (high blood pressure) is defined as BP greater than 140/90, prehypertension is defined as BP in the range of 120-139/80-89.
King, of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston and colleagues evaluated data on more than 3200 patients taking part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
At an average follow-up of over 10 years, people with prehypertension and a high resting heart rate of 80 bpm or more had an all-cause mortality rate that was 50 percent greater than those with a lower resting heart rate. This was unchanged after adjustment for factors including, age, sex and diabetes.
Similarly, the risk of heart disease was also increased by 50 percent in prehypertensive subjects with an elevated resting heart rate. However, after adjustment, heart rate remained important only in women.
“An increased heart rate at rest can be the result of many things,” King said, such as poor physical condition, psychological stress, acute illness, or other factors.
“My advice,” he concluded, “is to pay attention to the resting heart rate and bring it to the attention of your physician if it is over 80 beats per minute.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Hypertension, August 2006.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD