Pulse rate may predict heart attack risk

  • Deborah Condon

Simply measuring a woman’s resting pulse rate may predict her risk of suffering a heart attack, the results of a new study indicate.

Previous studies have shown that measuring a resting heart rate can predict coronary events in men. However the relationship between heart rate and coronary events or stroke remained unclear in women until now.

US researchers assessed the resting heart rate in 129,135 postmenopausal women with no history of heart problems. Risk factors that might be expected to affect heart rate, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and alcohol intake were taken into account at the start of the study.

The women were then monitored for an average of 7.8 years, during which time all hospital stays and coronary events were recorded.

During the study period, 2,281 coronary events (heart attacks and coronary deaths) and 1,887 strokes occurred.

The researchers found that women with the highest resting pulse rate – more than 76 beats per minute – were significantly more likely to suffer a coronary event than women with the lowest resting heart rate (62 beats per minute or less).

A further analysis of the results found that this link was independent of how much physical activity the women undertook.

No association between resting heart rate and stroke was found.

“Resting heart rate is a simple, inexpensive measurement that independently predicts heart attacks and coronary deaths, but not stroke, in postmenopausal women. Although the strength of this association is less than cigarette smoking or diabetes, it may be large enough to be clinically meaningful,” the researchers concluded.

Details of these findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

For more information on heart health, see…http://www.heart.ie


Anonymous - 05/02/2009 16:55

Are women in HRT who don't smoke more protected?

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