From Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health E-Zine

April 28, 2013

High Resting Heart Rate Increases Death Risk in Healthy People

The Copenhagen Male Study followed the health of 3000 men for 16 years and found that the higher the resting heart rate, the more likely that person is to die (Heart, Apr 17, 2013). Those who had lower resting heart rates and did not exercise still lived longer than those who had higher resting heart rates, even if they exercised. The authors conclude: “This suggests that a high resting heart rate is not a mere marker of poor physical fitness, it is an independent risk factor for premature death.”

The authors adjusted results for heart attack risk factors such as smoking, obesity and physical fitness. Compared to a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute, a resting heart rate of
• 71 to 80 beats/min was associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death during the study period,
• 81 to 90 beats/min was associated with a 100 percent increased risk, and
• over 90 beats/min was associated with a 150 percent increased risk.

This post might contain affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Learn more.

Every 10 to 20 beats per minute of resting heart rate above 50 increased the risk of death by 16 percent.

A high resting heart rate was also associated with other risk factors: lower physical fitness, higher blood pressure, heavier weight, and higher levels of blood cholesterol. The fitter the man, the lower the resting heart rate.

Other studies on heart rate have shown that:
• Rising resting heart rate with aging increases death rate. People whose resting heart rate increased 12 years later, are far more likely to die from a heart attack (JAMA, 2011 Dec 21; 306(23):2579-87).
• Exercise lowers heart rate and helps to prevent death from a heart attack (Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, Circulation, Dec. 5, 2011;124: 2483-2490). This study showed that maintaining or improving fitness reduces death risk, and stopping exercising is linked to higher death risk.


But what’s the difference between Recovery and Resting?

In summary:

  • Recovery pule rate measures fitness and ability to do well in competition.
  • Resting pulse rate measures susceptibility to disease and likelihood to die.

Give a Comment