Pulse Rate as a Measure of Health

A slower pulse rate equates to a longer life.

This video was originally published on NutritionFacts.org and republished with permission. NutritionFacts.org

A theoretical physicist and two biologists working in tandem were investigating mathematical laws which appear consistently throughout nature and made an interesting discovery regarding heart health; across the animal kingdom, the average lifespan is roughly 3 billion heartbeats. Pulse rate, they then theorized, can be a fair indicator of roughly how many more years you have left to live. In order to test this, they looked at athletes, whose resting heart rates tend to be slower than average. The results confirmed their theory; a faster resting pulse rate is linked to increased cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.

What is particularly interesting is that this is true regardless of a number of factors. Men, women, young, old, sick and healthy, the faster the resting heart rate, the more at risk you are of sudden heart failure as well as various other heart diseases. This might seem obvious, but the shocking part of the study was that even physical activity makes no impact. Even top athletes are at the same risk as the most sedentary hermit if their heart beats more than about once a second while sitting quietly.

The origin of this phenomenon lies within the structure of the arteries. Because the heart beats every hour of the day, the heart and arteries are undergoing constant stress. This stress causes the elastic quality of the artery to break down, stiffening it and hampering its ability to pump blood. A faster pulse only worsens this effect by not allowing the cardiovascular system to rest between beats. Further confirmation came with the development of drugs that only control pulse. Though would it not be better to control your heart rate by taking care of your body through diet and exercise than controlling side effects and numbing yourself with pills?

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