Objectives: To investigate the association between resting heart rate (RHR) and mortality and incident coronary heart disease (CHD) in the elderly.
Methods: Data derived from the Three-City Study, a French multicentre prospective study including 9294 community-dwelling elderly subjects aged ≥65 years at baseline examination between 1999 and 2001. The study population comprised 7147 participants (61% women) who were free of a pacemaker or any cardiac arrhythmias at baseline. RHR was measured twice at baseline in a seated position using an electronic tensiometer. Participants were then followed up bi-annually for vascular morbidity and mortality over 6 years. CHD events and cardiovascular death were adjudicated by an independent expert committee.
Results: After 6 years of follow-up, 615 subjects died including 17.9% from cardiovascular causes. Subjects from the top quintile of RHR (>79 bpm) had respectively a 74% (95% CI, 1.3-2.3), a 87% (95% CI: 0.98-3.6, p = 0.06) and a 72% (95% CI, 1.3-2.3) increased risk of total, cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality compared to those from the lowest quintile (<62 bpm), after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and beta-blocker (BB) use in a Cox regression analysis. Associations with total mortality were consistent according to age, gender, BB use, diabetes and hypertension status (all p values for interaction >0.10). Conversely, RHR was not predictive of incident CHD (n = 228 events; top vs lowest quintile: HR: 1.0; 95% CI: 0.6-1.5).
Conclusions: RHR is an independent risk marker of mortality but not of incident CHD events in community-dwelling elderly. Its routine measurement may help identify those who are at increased risk of mortality in the short term.