Relation of Higher Resting Heart Rate to Risk of Cardiovascular Versus Noncardiovascular Death

Am J Cardiol. 2017 Apr 1;119(7):1003-1007. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2016.11.059. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Higher resting heart rate (RHR) is associated with increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, with some reports showing the magnitude of association with all-cause mortality being stronger than that with cardiovascular mortality. This suggests that RHR association with mortality may not be limited to cardiovascular death. We compared the association between RHR with cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality in 6,743 participants (mean age 58.7 years, 52% women, 48% non-Hispanic whites) from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) after excluding those on antiarrhythmic drugs or with missing data. RHR data were obtained from standard 12-lead electrocardiogram recorded on the NHANES participants during a physical examination. National Death Index was used to identify the date and cause of death. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for cardiovascular mortality and noncardiovascular mortality, separately, associated with 10 beats/min increase in RHR. During a median follow-up of 13.9 years, 906 cardiovascular deaths and 1,306 noncardiovascular deaths occurred. In models adjusted for age, gender, race, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, previous cardiovascular disease, smoking, cancer, chronic obstructive airway disease, thyroid disease, and serum creatinine, higher RHR was associated with increased risk of both cardiovascular mortality and noncardiovascular mortality with a relatively similar magnitude of risk (HR 1.19, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.26 and HR 1.23, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.29, respectively). In conclusion, higher RHR is associated with both cardiovascular mortality and noncardiovascular mortality suggesting that RHR is probably a marker of overall well-being rather than a marker of cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cause of Death
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology