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If your heart is on fast-forward while you’re on pause, read on. A high resting heart rate — your pulse when you’re not moving — may signal an increased risk for heart attack, according to a study published in the online British Medical Journal (BMJ). The study provides evidence that a woman’s heart rate can help predict her risk for a heart attack.
Researchers have long known that an elevated resting heart rate in men increases their risk for heart attack. But similar evidence in women was lacking. So researchers assessed the resting hearts of more than 129,000 women and found that higher resting heart rates were associated with about a 25 percent increase in the risk for heart attack or heart-related death.
Take 10 Seconds to Check Your Rate
Anyone can figure out his or her resting heart rate. What’s especially intriguing about this approach is that it’s low-tech to apply. Here’s how:
1. Turn your hand so that your palm is facing up.
2. Place the index and middle fingers of the other hand on the wrist, just below the base of the thumb. You should feel your pulse.
3. Count the beats for 10 seconds; multiply this by six to get your heart rate for a minute.
According to the American Heart Association, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute; it’s typically lower in people who are fit. However, the BMJ study found that women ages 50 to 64 with a resting range above 76 were at the highest risk for heart attack and heart-related death during the eight-year follow-up period.
How can you put your high rate to rest? Get your heart going on a regular basis: Exercise is effective at lowering resting heart rates.
Kick the ‘Work’ Out of Workout
If your resting heart rate is consistently higher than 100, call your doctor for a consultation. If it’s toward the higher end of the normal range, increase your physical activity. Exercise doesn’t have to be a drag; here are some ideas to get you moving:
For More Information
For more information about heart and vascular care at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego cardiologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.