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Fast Heart Rate Increases Risk for Heart Attacks

Having a fast resting heart rate increases your risk for suffering a heart attack (1,6) and premature death (7).

Everything that you do -- thinking, eating or moving -- speeds up your heart. To find out your resting heart rate, check it when you first wake in the morning. Use a heart rate monitor or place your fingers on the side of your neck where you feel a strong heart beat. Count your heart rate. If it beats more than 83 times a minute, you are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack in the next three years, compared with people with lower heart rates (1).

The test is dependable only if you are not sick, not under unusual stress and have not been working excessively hard for the last few days. A high heart rate increases is associated with higher blood pressures that damages arteries and forms plaques (5). A fast heart rate can knock a plaque from an artery to block blood flow and cause a heart attack (3). If your resting heart rate is greater than 83, check with your doctor.

1) GB Habib. Reappraisal of heart rate as a risk factor in the general population. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss H, pp H2-H10.

2) R Ferrari, F Nesta, A Boraso. Increased heart rate is detrimental: the myocardial metabolic theory. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss H, pp H24-H28.

3) C Rapezzi, C Manes, A Branzi. Increased heart rate is detrimental: the peripheral-plaque theory. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss H, pp H29-H32.

4)H Purcell. Heart rate as a therapeutic target in ischaemic heart disease. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss H, pp H58-H63.

5)AC Pessina, P Palatini.Heart rate as a therapeutic target in hypertension. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss H.

6) P Palatini. Heart rate as a cardiovascular risk factor.European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss B, pp B3-B9.

7 )E KristalBoneh, H Silber, G Harari, P Froom. The association of resting heart rate with cardiovascular, cancer and all-cause mortality - Eight year follow-up of 3527 male Israeli employees (The CORDIS Study). European Heart Journal, 2000, Vol 21, Iss 2, pp 116-124

Checked 11/8/14

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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