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Higher Heart Rate Linked to Risk of Ischemic Heart Deaths

Last Updated: January 18, 2010.

Resting heart rate is associated with risk of death from ischemic heart disease, but, in women, physical activity may reduce this risk, according to research published in the February issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Resting heart rate (RHR) is associated with risk of death from ischemic heart disease, but, in women, physical activity may reduce this risk, according to research published in the February issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Javaid Nauman, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and colleagues analyzed data from 50,088 men and women free of cardiovascular disease and diabetes at baseline who underwent assessment of RHR and provided information on their physical activity. Subjects were followed for a mean of 18 years for cardiovascular mortality.

The researchers found that, for each additional 10 beats per minute, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease was 18 percent higher for women under 70 years of age, 10 percent higher for men under 70, and 11 percent higher for men 70 and older. In women at every level of RHR, those with a high level of physical activity had lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease than women with no physical activity.

"To summarize, RHR was positively associated with risk of cardiovascular deaths and, particularly, with deaths caused by ischemic heart disease. Especially among women, there was also evidence for a combined effect of RHR and physical activity, suggesting that by engaging in physical activity, the risk associated with a high RHR may be substantially reduced, but physical activity alone does not fully explain the association of RHR with ischemic heart disease deaths," the authors conclude.

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