Higher resting heart rate is linked to an increased risk of death

Heart, News & Analysis

24th November 2015

A higher than average resting heart rate can lead to an increased risk of death from all causes, according to an analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers from Qingdao University in China looked at 46 studies that monitored resting heart rate, age, and cause of death. They found a correlation between higher resting heart rates and death from all causes.

The study’s co-author, Dr Dongfeng Zhang, said: ‘The association of resting heart rate with risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality is independent of traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease, suggesting that resting heart rate is a predictor of mortality in the general population.’

The researchers found that a person’s chance of death from any cause increases by nine per cent for every additional ten heart beats per minute. At the same speed the risk of death from cardiovascular disease increases by eight per cent. A healthy resting heart rate is anything between 60 and 100 beats a minute. More efficient hearts don’t need to pump as often, and can be an indicator of cardiovascular fitness.

Dr Zhang said: ‘The available evidence does not fully establish resting heart rate as a risk factor, but there is no doubt that elevated resting heart rate serves as a marker of poor health status. Our results highlight that people should pay more attention to their resting heart rate for their health, and also indicate the potential importance of physical activity to lower resting heart rate.’

Factors affecting your resting heart rate include genetics, ageing and stress. Regular exercise tends to lower the rate.

Cyclists in particular are well known for having extremely low resting heart rates. Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain apparently had a rate of 28 beats per minute.


  • kaymanaisle

    Perhaps I’m missing something here but, a propos the headline, I think everyone’s risk of death is the same whether you have a higher or lower heart rate.

    • brianOO7

      I think they are talking about the death rate over a given time period. I also think they are aware that everyone eventually dies. I could be mistaken (on the second point).