Faster Beat Means More Risk for Some

Why your heart rate is so important

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All patients with diagnosed coronary heart disease have a higher risk of death.  But which of these patients has the highest risk of death?  Michael Faulx, MD., of the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, may know.  The answer, he says, is in the heart rate: the faster it beats, the higher the risk.  Dr. Faulx recently presented a study showing that patients with stable coronary disease who had a heart rates greater than 78 had a 39 percent increased risk of suffering a major vascular event, a 77 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 65 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

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“Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats every minute,” Dr. Faulx told the newsletter Heart Advisor. “A normal heart rate is greater than 60 beats per minute and less than 100 beats per minute. You can measure your heart rate by counting the number of pulses you feel in your neck or wrist for 15 seconds, then multiplying by 4 (or 30 seconds and multiplying by 2).”

The study did not show if a higher heart rate also meant a higher risk of death for people without existing coronary disease.  “We also don’t know for sure whether increased heart rate itself is harmful or whether the increased heart rate is a marker of something else that increases risk, such as inflammation,” Dr. Faulx told Heart Advisor. “There is evidence that suggests a little bit of both is probably the case.” Dr. Faulx talks more about this study on the video below.

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