Resting, night-time, and 24 h heart rate as markers of cardiovascular risk in middle-aged and elderly men and women with no apparent heart disease

Eur Heart J. 2013 Jun;34(23):1732-9. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehs449. Epub 2013 Jan 9.


Aims: Increased heart rate (HR) is a predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular (CV) mortality. We tested which measure of HR had the strongest prognostic value in a population with no apparent heart disease.

Methods and results: Six hundred and fifty-three men and women between the age of 55 and 75 years were included in the Copenhagen Holter Study and underwent 48 h ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring. Resting HR was measured after at least 10 min of rest. Twenty-four-hour HR was derived from the mean time between normal-to-normal RR intervals (MEANNN). Night-time HR was derived from a 15 min sequence between 2:00 and 2:15 a.m. The median follow-up time was 76 months, and an adverse outcome was defined as all-cause mortality and the combined endpoint of CV death, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and revascularization. All three measures of HR were significantly associated with all-cause mortality, also after adjustment for conventional risk factors. We found an association between all three measures of HR and CV events in analyses adjusted for sex and age. However, when adjusting for CV risk factors, the association with resting HR and 24 h HR disappeared. In a fully adjusted model, only night-time HR remained in the model, hazard ratio = 1.17 (1.05-1.30), P = 0.005.

Conclusion: In middle-aged subjects with no apparent heart disease, all measures of increased HR were associated with increased mortality and CV risk. However, night-time HR was the only parameter with prognostic importance after multivariable adjustment.

Keywords: 24 h heart rate; Mortality; Night-time heart rate; Prognosis; Resting heart rate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rest