Heart rate is a stronger predictor of cardiovascular death in the elderly, particularly in men, than traditional risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. After 12 years of follow-up, the investigators found that elderly men in above 80 beats per minute, had a significantly higher rate of cardiovascular mortality. A low heart rate, below 64 beats per minute, was protective against cardiovascular mortality. The authors note that it is difficult to separate heart rate from other complex biological processes, and that elevated heart rate may simply be a marker of increased sympathetic tone, poor physical fitness or subclinical cardiovascular disease. Regardless, a link between heart rate and sudden death has been demonstrated repeatedly in epidemiologic studies, which, together with the new study, support the conclusion that an elevated heart rate should not be ignored as being innocuous.
Arch Intern Med March 22, 1999;159:585-592.
COMMENT: This risk factor will NEVER catch on. It is to simple and easy to do and no one will make any money on it. However, you can use it for a good measure of heart disease risk. I imagine that the increased heart rate is reflective of an increase in activity in the sympathetic nervous system. Stress, the old flight or fight response which usually causes more heart disease and cancer than any other cause, including diet.