February 05, 2020
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Resting heart rates may vary among patients by 70 bpm

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Giorgio Quer

Using a wrist-worn heart rate tracker, researchers were able to determine that resting heart rates varied from patient to patient by as much as 70 bpm, according to a study published in PLoS One.

“The resting heart rate of different individuals varies widely,” Giorgio Quer, PhD, director of artificial intelligence at Scripps Research Translational Institute and senior staff scientist at Scripps Research, told Healio. “What is normal for you may be unusual for someone else and suggest an illness. Instead of focusing on a single measurement done in the clinic, it is now possible to have a longitudinal view of the changes in resting heart rate, which may, as we learn more, provide information not only for cardiovascular health, but also for pulmonary status, early infectious disease detection, reproductive health and likely much more.”

Researchers analyzed data from 92,457 patients (mean age, 46 years; 63% women) who wore a wrist-worn heart rate tracker (Fitbit) for at least 20 hours per day and at least 2 days per week for at least 35 weeks from March 2016 to February 2018.

The wearable device was worn for a median of 320 days with a mean resting heart rate of 65.5 bpm. Resting heart rate varied from 40 bpm to 109 bpm between patients.

“We do not have information on the health condition of the individuals, so we cannot say that this means healthy,” Quer said in an interview. “However, the paper does clearly demonstrate that different individuals can have very different resting heart rates over time.”

Most men had a resting heart rate between 50 bpm and 80 bpm, and most women ranged between 53 bpm and 82 bpm. was consistently higher in women in all age ranges. For men and women, resting heart rate typically increased until age 50 years, then decreased (P < .01 for both).

A U-shaped relationship was observed between resting heart rate and BMI. Daily sleep duration was also linked with resting heart rate (P < .01 for both).

Resting heart rate in men and women peaked during the first week of January and achieved the yearly minimum at the end of July.

Short-term resting heart rate was stable in most participants, but over 2 years, 20% had at least 1 week where their rates varied by 10 bpm or more.

“A longitudinal view of the changes in resting heart rate for an individual may be a rich source of information that could potentially be used in many useful ways to improve health, whether to aid in fertility or for the early detection of infections,” Quer told Healio. “Prospective studies are needed to truly understand its value.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

For more information:

Giorgio Quer, PhD, can be reached at gquer@scripps.edu; Twitter: @giorgioquer.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.