Heart Rate Reveals Risk of Sudden Death
Test May Show Heart-Rate Abnormalities in Seemingly Healthy Men
WebMD News Archive
Raising the Risk
Each of those heart-rate problems raised the men's risk of sudden death from
cardiac arrest. Sudden death occurs when the heart abruptly loses its capacity
to pump. The electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or irregular
- An increased resting heart rate nearly quadrupled the men's risk.
- Men with hearts that were sluggish during exercise were 6.2 times more
likely to experience sudden death.
- Those with hearts that had trouble slowing down after exercise had roughly
double the risk of sudden death.
After adjusting for other risks, "these three factors remained strongly
associated with risk of sudden death," writes Jouven, who works in the
cardiology department of Paris' Hôpital Euopéen Georges Pompidou.
The three heart-rate problems were also linked to a "moderate but
significant" risk of death from any cause. However, they weren't associated
with nonsudden heart attack deaths. (Heart attacks can cause sudden death but
'Powerful Predictor' of Sudden Death
Heart rate during exercise and recovery is "a powerful predictor of the
risk of sudden death" in seemingly healthy men, say researchers.
Such tests could help doctors identify and treat high-risk men, they
Smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical
inactivity, and depression (especially in heart disease patients) have also
been shown to be heart hazards.
Many of those risk factors can be improved. For instance, exercise, stress
control, and a healthy diet can help; so can medications, when needed. Doctors
can assess your risk and outline your options. Seek immediate help if you sense
any heart problems.
What to Do
The American Heart Association statement on preventing heart attacks and
deaths from coronary disease recommends 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity
activity three to four times a week in addition to lifestyle changes.
Knowing how to can
Calculating your peak (or maximum) heart rate can be done by using the
220 - Your Age = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate
Example: a 40-year-old's predicted maximum heart rate is 180.
Once you've determined your maximum heart rate you can then easily figure
out your exercise heart rate. This is 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate
depending on the intensity of exercise. Your doctor may recommend a lower
exercise heart rate depending on your health.
So the 40-year-old with a maximum heart rate of 180 should exercise at a
heart rate between 108 and 144.