To determine whether abnormalities in heart rate (HR) were associated with long-term mortality in older, low-level care residents, 179 randomly selected persons aged 65 and older (mean, 83.2+/-7.0 [SD] years; 80% women) were prospectively assessed. At baseline, duplicate measurements of HR and blood pressure were recorded in the supine position and after standing. During the 5-year follow-up period, 97 (54%) participants died. Cox survival analysis revealed no association with total mortality when resting HR was analyzed as a continuous or categoric variable (< or = 60, 61-89, and > 90 bpm). However, HR > or = 90 bpm was associated with increased risk of dying in residents who used a walking aid (relative risk, 3.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-11.30; p=0.038). Postural HR change was not associated with mortality risk. The authors concluded that resting HR and postural change in HR are not significant predictors of 5-year mortality in older, low-level care residents, except in persons using a walking aid.