Both high resting heart rate at one time point and persistent high resting heart rate are linked to increased risk of premature death, myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. The good thing is that resting heart rate in the population has declined markedly in recent decades.
In her research at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, PhD candidate Ekaterina Sharashova has looked at how the resting heart rate in the population has changed over time, and how resting heart rate and trajectories in resting heart rate can be linked to the risk of cardiovascular diseases and premature death. The thesis uses data from the Tromsø Study, which was arranged four times between 1986 and 2007.
The first paper shows that the average resting heart rate of people in Tromsø declined between each of the four surveys. In 1986, the average heart rate for men was 73.4 beats per minute, whilst only 64.7 beats per minute in 2007. For women, the average resting heart rate decreased from 78.3 to 66.4. The largest reduction occurred between 2001 and 2007, and the results applied to all age groups. Resting heart rate declined the most in people who had also reduced other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
In the second paper Sharashova investigated the association between resting heart rate and risk of future cardiovascular disease. Information about resting heart rate was registered in almost 25 000 participants aged 25-97 years in 1994 and 1995, and updated for participants who attended later versions of the Tromsø Study. Participants were followed until the end of 2012, and the findings link higher resting heart rate to gradually increased risk of myocardial infarction, cardiovascular death and premature death from any cause in both sexes. In men, higher resting heart rate was also independently linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation, whereas women with higher resting heart rate had an increased risk of ischemic stroke.
The third paper examined how trajectories in resting heart rate from one version of the Tromsø Study to a later version was associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The results show that both sustained high resting heart rate and increased resting heart rate over time is linked to increased risk of myocardial infarction and early death independent of other risk factors. The lowest risk was observed among participants who had low resting heart rate over time.
Thesis: Decline in resting heart rate, its association with other variables, and its role in cardiovascular disease; The Tromsø Study
Candidate: Ekaterina Sharashova
Time and place: February 10, 2017, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Sharashova, E., Wilsgaard, T., & Brenn, T. (2015). Resting heart rate on the decline: the Tromsø Study 1986–2007. International journal of epidemiology, 44(3), 1007-1017.
Sharashova, E., Wilsgaard, T., Mathiesen, E. B., Løchen, M. L., Njølstad, I., & Brenn, T. (2016). Resting heart rate predicts incident myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, ischaemic stroke and death in the general population: the Tromsø Study. Journal of epidemiology and community health, jech-2015.
Sharashova, E., Wilsgaard, T., Løchen, M. L., Mathiesen, E. B., Njølstad, I., & Brenn, T. (2017). Resting heart rate trajectories and myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, ischaemic stroke and death in the general population: The Tromsø Study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2047487316688983.