Prognostic Performance of Heart Rate Recovery on an Exercise Test in a Primary Prevention Population

J Am Heart Assoc. 2018 Mar 26;7(7):e008143. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008143.


Background: Heart rate (HR) recovery has been investigated in specific patient cohorts, but there is less information about the role of HR recovery in general populations. We investigated whether HR recovery has long-term prognostic significance in primary prevention.

Methods and results: Exercise tests performed between 1993 and 2010 on patients aged 30 to 79 years without cardiovascular disease were included. Mortality was determined from Mayo Clinic records and Minnesota Death Index. Total, cardiovascular, and non-cardiovascular mortality was reported according to HR recovery <13 bpm using Cox regression. 19 551 patients were included, 6756 women (35%), age 51±10 years. There were 1271 deaths over follow-up of 12±5 years. HR recovery declined after age 60, and was also lower according to diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, current smoking, and poor cardiorespiratory fitness but not sex or β-blockers. Adjusting for these factors, abnormal HR recovery was a significant predictor of total (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval]=1.56 [1.384-1.77]), cardiovascular (1.95 [1.57-2.42]), and non-cardiovascular death (1.41 [1.22-1.64]). Hazard ratios for cardiovascular death according to abnormal HR recovery were significant in all age groups (30-59, 60-69, 70-79), in both sexes, in patients with and without hypertension, obesity, and diabetes mellitus, but not in patients taking β-blockers, current smokers, and patients with normal cardiorespiratory fitness.

Conclusions: HR recovery is a powerful prognostic factor predicting total, cardiovascular, and non-cardiovascular death in a primary prevention cohort. It performs consistently well according to sex, age, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus but shows diminished utility in patients taking β-blockers, current smokers, and patients with normal cardiorespiratory fitness.

Keywords: exercise testing; heart rate recovery; mortality; primary prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cause of Death
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors