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Study: Regardless Of Physical Fitness, High Resting Heart Rate Connected To Earlier Death

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(Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The higher your pulse, the higher your chances of dying, new research says.

The study, called the Copenhagen Male Study and published in the April 15th issue of Heart, looked at the resting heart rate (or pulse) of about 3,000 men over the course of 16 years, beginning in 1970-71. Researchers say it was conducted in order to find out whether or not resting heart rate was an independent risk factor for death or merely an indicator of physical fitness.

At the start of the study, all of the participants were asked about their health, physical fitness and lifestyle choices, then examined by a doctor. They also performed a cycling test to assess their cardiorespiratory fitness.

In 1985-86, the participants were given a second checkup that included blood pressure, height, weight, blood glucose, and blood fat measurements. The scientists also recorded the men’s resting heart rates.

Sixteen years later, in 2001, the doctors established that 4 in 10 of the study’s participants had died. According to researchers, while a higher resting heart rate was “unsurprisingly” associated with lower levels of physical fitness, higher blood pressure and weight and higher levels of circulating blood fats, scientists also found that the higher the resting heart rate of the person, the greater the chance of death – regardless of physical fitness level.

According to the Copenhagen study, every 10 to 22 additional heart beats per minute in resting heart rate raised the likelihood of death by 16%. Factor smoking into that equation, and the risk of death jumped to 20% for every 12 to 27 additional beats per minute.

So, what’s a normal resting heart rate? Medical News Today says it’s between 60-100 beats per minute.

While researchers say they must further study the link between heart rate and death, they say routine exercise, a healthy diet and a non-smoking lifestyle should still be top priority for everyone, regardless of pulse.

To see the study, visit: http://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2013/03/21/heartjnl-2012-303375.short?g=w_heart_ahead_tab

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